Serena Williams figures this statistic needs an asterisk: For the first time since Wimbledon started seeding players in the 1920s, none of the top 10 women reached the quarterfinals.
It’s also the only Grand Slam tournament in the half-century professional era with zero top-10 seeds in the women’s final eight.
“I don’t think this has happened to this extreme. But also, I’ve never been ranked where I am,” Williams said Monday after her fourth straight-set victory of the fortnight. “Usually, I’m one of those few seeds left that’s still fighting and still in the tournament. Now that I’m not, it kind of happened.”
Bidding for an eighth championship at the All England Club, Williams will be back on court Tuesday, but she is seeded only 25th, and that actually represents a big bump up from her ranking of No. 181. As she keeps reminding folks, this is just her fourth tournament since missing more than a year of action because she was pregnant and gave birth to a daughter last September.
“I feel like I’m getting to where I want to be,” Williams said. “For me, there’s so much farther I want to go to get back where I was _ and hopefully go beyond that.”
That might sound a tad scary to opponents. The 36-year-old American, who has spent more than 300 weeks ranked No. 1, looks superb so far. Williams’ latest match required only 62 minutes and was not much of a contest, a 6-2, 6-2 win in which she compiled a 30-5 edge in winners against Evgeniya Rodina, a qualifier from Russia ranked 120th who was dealing with a bothersome left thigh.
Williams hit serves up to 118 mph, delivering 10 aces, including four in one game.
“It’s speed and placement,” Rodina said about what makes Williams’ serve so effective. “It’s 115, and she puts the ball close to the line.”
The one time Williams lost a service game, cutting her second-set lead to 3-2, she broke right back at love to start a three-game streak that ended things.
Williams hasn’t faced a seeded player yet, and she won’t on Tuesday, either, instead facing 52nd-ranked Camila Giorgi of Italy.
Asked what she likes the most about the way Williams plays, Giorgi responded: “I don’t follow tennis.”
Here’s a hint, Camila: Williams is now just three victories from a 24th Grand Slam title, which would add to her own professional-era record and equal Margaret Court’s all-time mark. Consider, too, that the other 15 women in fourth-round action Monday own a combined three major trophies: Angelique Kerber has two, Jelena Ostapenko the other.
On Tuesday, No. 11 Kerber will play No. 14 Daria Kasatkina, and No. 12 Ostapenko faces 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova. No. 7 Karolina Pliskova’s wait for a major title will continue. She was the lone top-10 women’s seed still around at this upset-filled tournament, and now she’s also gone. Pliskova was beaten 6-3, 7-6 (1) by No. 20 Kiki Bertens, who eliminated Williams’ sister, Venus, last week.
Bertens now faces No. 13 Julia Goerges, who beat Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-2.
“I didn’t expect it, honestly,” said Goerges, who lost in the first round at the All England Club each of the past five years.
Giorgi, Kasatkina, Bertens and Goerges will each be making her debut in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. It’s the first time making it to the final eight at any major for Giorgi and Goerges.
Predictably, Pliskova was asked why there have been so many surprises.
And, just as predictably, she was in no mood to provide an answer.
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore. I answered this question, like, 10 times,” the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up said. “I don’t know why all the seeds are gone.”