London, July 7: Seven-time champion Serena Williams has kept her Wimbledon hopes alive with a hard-fought 7-5, 7-6 (7-2) third-round victory over Kristina Mladenovic. Older sister Venus Williams, however, crashed out of the tournament with a 6-2, 6-7 (5-7), 8-6 loss to Kiki Bertens.
Mladenovic served for the first set at 5-4 during the match on Friday but she squandered that opportunity and then got broken once again in the 12th game to drop the opener, Efe news reported. Serena only broke the Frenchwoman's serve once in the second set, although that was enough to force a tiebreaker, which she won easily.
The 36-year-old American great is ranked number 181 as she was absent from the WTA Tour nearly all of last season due to pregnancy and maternity leave, but she has a 17-match winning streak at Wimbledon dating back to the start of the 2015 tournament and is among a handful of favourites for the title.
"I don't have anything to lose. I have absolutely nothing to prove. Yeah, everything is a bonus. Every time I step out there, I know what I'm capable of. I know every Grand Slam. I've won 'em. I'm capable of just going out there and enjoying it," the number 25 seed was quoted as saying afterward on the WTA's website.
Next up for the 23-time Grand Slam champion in the fourth round will be Russia's Evgeniya Rodina, who edged 10th-seeded Madison Keys 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. Five-time champion Venus Williams, meanwhile, was unable to match her strong performance from last year, when she reached her ninth final at the All England Club.
After being clearly outplayed in the first set of Friday's match, the number 9 seed sharpened up on her second-serve points to force a decider. She also managed to hang close with Bertens in the third set by getting herself out of jams on serve in the seventh and 11th games.
But the 20th-seeded Dutchwoman was too solid in the end, finally clinching victory on her third match point to advance to the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career. With the win, Bertens also got revenge for a narrow 5-7, 6-3, 7-5 loss to the 38-year-old veteran earlier this year in Miami, a match in which she squandered two match points.
She will next face seventh-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova (the second-highest-ranked player left in the women's singles draw after Romanian world number 1 Simona Halep) for a spot in the quarter-finals.