Serena survives almighty Watson scare to advance

Fri Jul 3, 2015 3:30pm EDT
 
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By Neil Maidment

LONDON (Reuters) - World number one Serena Williams survived an almighty scare at Wimbledon on Friday, battling back to beat inspired Briton Heather Watson in three sets and stay on course for a 21st grand slam title.

Williams, who has lifted this year's Australian and French Open crowns, was forced to dig deep in front of a raucous home crowd after an error-strewn showing against the superb Watson, recovering from 3-0 down in the final set to win 6-2 4-6 7-5.

The 33-year-old will face her sister Venus in the last 16 -- their 26th career meeting -- as she continues her bid for a sixth Wimbledon crown.

"I have had some tough losses but that was probably my toughest match. I think she played unbelievable and should have won the match," the American told reporters.

"She could get beyond the top 20, she is playing really well... She was playing so good there was nothing I could do."

The signs looked ominous for 59th-ranked Watson early on after being swept aside in the first set but the 23-year-old bounced back in the second, forcing Williams into a string of wayward shots as she matched up to her more powerful opponent.

Watson reeled off six games in a row with three service breaks to level the match and race into a shock 3-0 lead in the decider, raising the prospect of a first British female victory over a reigning world number one since Sue Barker beat Chris Evert in 1979.

"It would have been a lot better if I won," Watson said.   Continued...

 
Serena Williams of the U.S.A. reacts during her match against Heather Watson of Britain at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, July 3, 2015.                 REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth