The historic Wimbledon tennis tournament is well under way, with only 32 men and women left in the competition as of Monday morning.
But as of 2:30 p.m. British time, another competitor had exited the tournament. Sisters Serena and Venus Williams, two of the best-known female tennis players in the world, faced off in a match that would determine which one advanced to the quarterfinals.
Serena came out on top, taking the first set 6-4 and the second 6-3.
The sisters were amicable after the match, hugging each other over the net. The two have faced off a total of 26 times in their professional tennis careers and have beaten each other more times then any other opponent.
Now Serena is left to pursue her Grand Slam dreams.
No tennis player since 1988 has won all four majors (US Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, and French Open) in a single year. But with the Australian and French Opens already under her belt, Serena has a fighting chance.
If she advances to the Wimbledon finals and wins, she’ll be the champion of four consecutive Grand Slams, including last year’s US Open. This has also been called a ‘Serena Slam’ – four straight majors in 12-month period. She’s looking to secure her second such "Slam" with a Wimbledon win.
But Serena is up against fierce competition in the coming days. On Tuesday, she’s set to face two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka.
Currently seeded at No. 24 against No. 1 Serena, Ms. Azarenka is no small threat, even if the numbers suggest otherwise. The Belarusian-born player and former world No. 1, is only 25 years old but was recognized as a member of tennis’s “ruling class” in 2012 and 2013 after winning consecutive Australian Opens.
Her year has been riddled with multiple injuries, making it difficult for her to keep up with the major tournament schedule, but she’s done it.
“Honestly, I’ve never been more motivated in my life before as I am now,” Azarenka told the New York Times in a January interview.
Azarenka is currently 3-16 against Serena and she hasn’t defeated her in a match since 2013 and has had trouble regaining momentum after suffering a crushing loss to Serena in the 2013 US Open finals.
But it’s unlikely that Azarenka will yield to Serena without a fight. The pair is notorious for their tough matches, and Azarenka has lost in back-to-back sets only once in their last five meetings.
If Serena aims to win, she’ll need to keep her focus and play her best game.
And, as a USA TODAY article suggests, she should “Act as if every opponent is Venus.”
According to the article, Serena played with an almost “clinical” style in her match against her sister on Monday. Gone was the grunting and screaming, and in its place was “efficient, unapologetic tennis.”
As Serena said after beating her sister on Monday, “I feel like my tournament is starting now.”