The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Sports - BY HOWARD FENDRICH

Ser­ena Williams walked into her news con­fer­ence at Wimbledon hold­ing her phone, a cold bot­tle of wa­ter and a statis­tics sheet that re­in­forced what was clear from watch­ing her third-round sin­gles vic­tory Satur­day:

She is as close to be­ing back to her best as she’s been in a while.

Williams, ham­pered for much of this sea­son by in­juries or ill­ness, took a step for­ward against 18thseeded Ju­lia Go­erges, a pow­er­ful hitter in her own right who lost to the Amer­i­can in last year’s semi­fi­nals at the All Eng­land Club. Sure enough, Williams hit serves at up to 120 mph, put in a tour­na­ment-best 71 per­cent of her first serves, never faced so much as one break point and won 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s been an ar­du­ous year for me,” said Williams, who had com­peted only 12 times in 2019 un­til this week, mostly be­cause of a both­er­some left knee that fi­nally is pain-free. “So ev­ery match, I’m hop­ing to im­prove tons.”

Maybe it was a good thing she played twice Satur­day, then.

About 41⁄2 hours af­ter get­ting past Go­erges at No. 1 Court, Williams headed out to Cen­tre Court for her much-bal­ly­hooed de­but as Andy Mur­ray’s team­mate in mixed dou­bles. Other than one slip near the net when she lost her foot­ing in the first set – she was fine and laughed it off – Williams looked good dur­ing the 6-4, 6-1 win against Andreas Mies and Alexa Guarachi, in­clud­ing smack­ing one serve at 122 mph, equal­ing the fastest hit in sin­gles by any woman (her, nat­u­rally) dur­ing the tour­na­ment.

“Andy and I both love the com­pe­ti­tion. I know we both want to do well,” Williams said. “We’re not here just for show.”


Sloane Stephens re­turns to Jo­hanna Konta dur­ing day six at Wimbledon. Konta won the match 3-6, 6-4, 6-1.

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