By Martyn Herman
LONDON (Reuters) – Seven-times champion Serena Williams prevailed in a Centre Court mothers’ meeting on Monday, roaring past Russian qualifier Evgeniya Rodina into the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
The 36-year-old American was untroubled in a 6-2 6-2 victory — her 90th singles match win at the All England Club.
Rodina, who like Williams combines a tennis career with motherhood, looked overawed at first as she went 3-0 down.
She steadied herself, though, and had a break point when Williams served at 4-2, but her chances were few and far between as her opponent continued to charge through a draw blown wide open by an exodus of seeds.
Rodina left the court for a few minutes at the end of the first set but when she returned Williams continued her domination with an early break in the second.
With her easy power game in sync Williams looked serene as she cruised to victory to set up a clash with Italy’s Camila Giorgi, the fifth unseeded player she will have faced in a dream draw on her Wimbledon return.
“I faced a thousand and three seeds in my life, so I’m okay wit that,” Williams responded when asked if she would have preferred stiffer tests.
None of the top eight women’s seeds have reached the quarter-finals for the first time since seedings were introduced in 1927 — although Williams’ 25th seeding is misleading.
The way she is striking the ball and moving in her second Grand Slam back after childbirth she would arguably be favourite for the title even with the likes of Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep still in contention.
She is unbeaten at the championships since 2014, winning the title in 2015 and 2016. She missed last year because of her pregnancy but is on an 18-match winning run at the All England Club.
As easy as she is making it look, however, the American is not satisfied with her level.
“There’s a lot to improve on. This is only my fourth tournament back,” she said.
“I feel like I’m getting to where I want to be. For me, there’s so much further I want to go to get back where I was, and hopefully go beyond that.
“I’m always striving for perfection. There’s a lot of things that I don’t know if you can tell, but I really need to work on. Hopefully, I can get there.”
(Reporting by Martyn Herman; editing by Clare Lovell and Ed Osmond)