Serena Williams will look to stay on course for an eight Wimbledon crown and a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title when she takes on qualifier and fellow mom Evgeniya Rodina in the fourth round on Manic Monday.
For someone who should be rusty, Serena Williams has fired into the second week of Wimbledon without dropping a set. The former world number one returned to competitive action in March after more than a year out due to pregnancy and maternity leave.
She had an injury problem at the French Open and had to withdraw before the fourth round. There were growing concerns that a presumed lack of fitness might be her undoing, early at The Championships, but the seven-time champion has, with every passing match, killed off doubts about her ability to perform impressively.
Her third round match against Kristina Mladenovic showed glimpses of Serena’s strength and will as she outlasted the Frenchwoman 7-5, 7-6 to book her place in the last 16. Can she now go a step further by beating Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina?
Rodina hadn’t won a WTA main draw match this year before Wimbledon. She came in through the qualifying rounds and has now, surprisingly, reached the second week. She proved her mettle in the third round against 2017 US Open finalist, Madison Keys where she held her nerves to claim a 7-5, 5-7, 6-4 win and reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career.
It will be a first time meeting between the two players, who are both mothers. And while the 29-year-old Rodina has labelled Serena as her idol and a great player, she says she wouldn’t be overawed.
“I need to relax and play my tennis. I played well in the qualifying and this week to get to the fourth round for the first time in my life.
“I have nothing to lose,” Rodina said.
Will Serena stay on course and march on towards making history? Or will Rodina continue her fairytale run?
This match is live on Centre Court at the All England Club, London on Monday from 3pm WAT.