London - The last time Serena Williams played Victoria Azarenka, they
exchanged angry gestures, testy words - and a pair of shorts.
If the rematch of that tense three-setter at the French Open is half as
good, fans at Wimbledon should be in for a treat.
Williams takes on Azarenka again in the quarter-finals at the All England
Club on Tuesday, hoping to keep up her dominance against a player she considers
a friend off the court. Williams has a 16-3 career advantage against Azarenka,
including a 9-0 record in Grand Slam matches.
"I've had a couple of tough matches with Victoria," Williams said.
"She's due to win big and to do really well. Incidentally, so am I."
The second Tuesday at Wimbledon usually only features the women's quarter-finals,
but they'll be joined by Novak Djokovic and Kevin Anderson this time. Their
fourth-round match was suspended because of darkness after the fourth set and
will resume on Court 1.
Williams is now just three matches away from winning her fourth straight
major, but her streak was nearly ended by Azarenka in the third round at Roland
Garros. Williams had to come from a set down to win that match, which turned
heated as the players argued over a decision to replay a key point. Their
friendship quickly resumed afterward, though, with Azarenka giving Williams a
pair of her shorts after the American said she liked them.
She's not likely to get any gifts back on Tuesday - on the court at least.
And as for a game plan for how to beat the American, she seems to lack that,
"I still need to find it because I haven't beaten her in the Grand
Slams," Azarenka said. "So for me, I still have to find that extra
step to go a little bit further."
Williams beat sister Venus on Monday, and faces another former No 1 in
Azarenka. If she wins that, she could face a third in Maria Sharapova in the
In the bottom half of the draw, there are no women left who are ranked in
the top 10 or have won a major.
"I'm on the heavier side (of the draw) it seems," Williams said.
"Maybe because I'm one of the heavy hitters and it makes it heavier. But
also with Maria, Victoria and Venus, there's a lot of heavy hitters on this
side. It doesn't matter. At the end of the day you need to get through these
matches now, sooner or later."