LONDON (Reuters) - It is unlikely that Alize Cornet will ever forget the moment she watched Serena Williams come charging towards the net - only to whip a backhand straight into the barrier.
It was game, set and match for Cornet as the 24-year-old toppled the world number one in one of the biggest upsets at Wimbledon, to reach the fourth round for the first time.
The effects of the adrenaline that pumped through the Frenchwoman’s veins were clear for all to see on Saturday. She thumped her chest three times with a clenched fist before kneeling over to plant a tender kiss on the worn out Court One turf.
It was a result that no one saw coming.
After all, Williams is a five-times Wimbledon singles champion, a 17-times grand slam champion and had reached the second week of Wimbledon for seven successive years.
Cornet, in contrast, spent the last seven years catching an early Channel crossing back home to be reunited with her cat Papyrus and dog Andy because “she couldn’t play on grass”.
Papyrus and Andy will have to wait a bit longer this year for their mistress to come home.
“If somebody would have told me a couple years ago that I would be in second week here in Wimbledon by beating Serena, I wouldn’t have believed it,” a beaming Cornet told reporters following the 1-6 6-3 6-4 triumph.
”A few years ago I couldn’t play on grass, I was so bad. I didn’t like grass. It was just a pain to come here. I knew I will have a tough time on the court.
”That’s why the kiss was very symbolic because it means now ‘I love you grass and I didn’t before’.
“It’s the best victory for me in slam. I did a lot of third rounds... I was really looking for this second week, now I have it. It deserved a kiss,” added the veteran of 34 majors.
Since making her Wimbledon debut as a giggling 16-year-old with a head full of beads, Williams has conquered all before her and has the power to reduce opponents to gibbering wrecks even before they have hit a ball in anger.
On Saturday, Cornet said the secret to her success was realizing the American was “just a human like everyone else.”
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Lovell