The former number 1 and mother of one, Serena Williams couldn’t believe the ankle injury she suffered late in her quarter-final loss to Karolina Pliskova was the reason she failed to convert one of her four match points, on a day where the American superstar coughed up a 5-1 lead in the third set and a spot in the last four.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner looked all but guaranteed a spot in Thursday’s semi-final against Japanese star Naomi Osaka — the woman she lost to in last year’s controversial US Open final — before she rolled her ankle while chasing a ball at the baseline.
Sensing an opportunity to capitalise, the 26-year-old Czech star pounced, reeling off a handful of clutch winners to progress to her first Australian Open semi-final 6-4, 4-6, 7-5.
The moment that sunk Serena!1:48
“I don’t think it had anything to do with my ankle, per se. I just think she was just nailing and hitting shots. Obviously I made some mistakes, but she played really well after that,” Williams told reporters an hour after her loss on Wednesday.
“I think she just played well on my serve after that point. I think she just kind of started playing really, really good.
“I think she just played lights out on match point, literally, hitting lines. Just went crazy on match point.”
Osaka through to semi0:49
Williams defended her decision to not call a trainer out to look at her injured ankle, preferring to deal with the discomfort.
“I really hate calling the trainer out, to be honest. And at that point I didn’t feel like I needed it or I didn’t feel like it would be a big deal. So I just kept going,” she said.
“You know, I like to just kind of tough it out, so to say. But, yeah, it was fine.”
After falling three wins short of equalling Australian legend Margaret Court’s all-time record of 23 Grand Slam titles, the 37-year-old has her sights set on going all the way at the French Open in May.
“Right now would be Roland Garros because that’s the next one; the next Grand Slam for me,” she said.
“But I mean, 22 is close — 23 wasn’t close — but 22 was close for a long time. 18 was close forever.”