Serena Williams stumbled to the ground, her taped right ankle turning, her body twisting and racket flying during the fourth round of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park.
Williams indicated that she was OK and grabbed the last two games to pull 6-4,2-6, 6-4 victory over No 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka to reach the quarterfinals.
Two years ago at this tournament, Williams was on the verge of a quarterfinals win when she hurt her ankle and ended losing.
“Well, my first thought was, ‘Not another ankle sprain in Australia.’ But I knew immediately that it wasn’t. Then I was more embarrassed than anything. I was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ I don’t like falling,” Williams said.
“But I was fine. I mean, once I realized I didn’t twist my ankle, like at all, I was like, ‘OK, I’m good, let me just get up,”she added.
The two hit the ball very hard, over and over in Rod Laver Arena, but Williams claimed the upper hand. She ended up having more winner, 30-24 and more aces 9-4 while hitting her best-in-the-game serve which clocked to 126 mph.
She showed no signs of trouble from her left Achilles tendon that hampered her in the U.S Open semi-final loss in September and forced to withdraw French Open before the second round later that month.
“I’ve worked really hard on my movement. Yeah, I like retrieving balls. I mean, obviously, I like to be on the offense, but I can play defense really well, as well,” the 39-year-old American said.
“I didn’t think about my Achilles. It’s so good to not think about it. Oh, my goodness.”
However, Sabalenka on the other hand was visibly and audibly frustrated as she screamed after she lost points.
Up next, Williams is assured to face either Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek.