“Anyone can win this,” shrugged No.1 seed Simona Halep, after being run ragged and bamboozled by everyone’s new favourite smiley, giant-slayer Su-Wei Hsieh, the 32-year-old from Chinese Taipei who just giggles about her own unfathomable game. Her next trick will be to try to tie the ferocious Dominika Cibulkova in knots on Court 18.
That match guarantees one unseeded quarter-finalist while Ekaterina Makarova’s contest with Italian Camila Giorgi on Court 12 ensures another - and you can imagine the satisfaction of a victory for the Russian, whose second round victim Caroline Wozniacki, the No.2 seed, quite wrote off her chances of progression.
This was always the day when Serena reckoned she put on her business head; now, as a new working mom, she can enjoy the mother of all matches on Centre Court with the one other player here who can really empathise with the monumental nature of her comeback.
Evgeniya Rodina, the world No.120, sounds a mite star-struck when she explains how Williams, who’s won 23 Grand Slams while she’s yet to win even a single tour title, is her idol. Yet even the great one might feel inspired by the tale of a journeyman Muscovite qualifier who’s struggled to rebuild her career while juggling it with maternal duties and yet has suddenly discovered the tennis of her life here at 29.
For while her little girl has been playing with an iPad in the Wimbledon creche, mum has enjoyed the tournament of her life, winning six matches in Qualifying and the main draw, earning the scalp of US Open finalist Madison Keys and getting a kiss from five-year-old Anna after each win. “It’s great to be a mum,” beams Rodina. Ah, but it’s even better to beat THE mom.
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Photo: Rémy Gros