Four-time winner Serena Williams survived a major scare before battling into the last 16 at Wimbledon on Saturday, while defending champion Petra Kvitova took the express route into the second week.
Williams was in danger of emulating Rafael Nadal’s shock Centre Court exit against Lukas Rosol 48 hours earlier when she lost the first set against Chinese 25th seed Zheng Jie.
That was the first time Serena had dropped a set in the tournament, but the American showed why she is a 13-time Grand Slam champion with a gutsy fightback to finally claim an epic 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 9-7 win over Zheng, who also lost to Serena in the 2008 Wimbledon semi-finals.
“It was good to win that. I needed a tough match like that and she’s always playing me incredibly well,” Williams said.
“I’m just fighting everything and playing hard. She plays unbelievable on grass so I just did the best I could.”
Serena’s reward for her labours is a last 16 clash with history-maker Yaroslava Shevdova.
Kazakh wildcard Shvedova completed the first Golden Set in Grand Slam history as she won all 24 points and conceded none in a 6-0 first set whitewash en route to defeating French Open runner-up Sara Errani.
Shvedova, the world number 65, hit 14 winners and took just 15 minutes to demolish Italian 10th seed Errani in an incredible first set on Court Three.
The 24-year-old, the Wimbledon doubles champion in 2010, couldn’t dominate quite so emphatically in the second set.
But she still landed the decisive break to secure a 6-0, 6-4 victory before celebrating with a post-match tweet that read: “Today I laid a golden egg!”.
While Serena battled to reach the second week, fourth seed Kvitova barely broke sweat in her ruthless 53-minute 6-1, 6-0 demolition of America’s Varvara Lepchenko.
Kvitova has yet to drop a set in defence of the title she won with a shock triumph against Maria Sharapova 12 months ago.