Ill Williams into final against Safarova, Paris – Serena Williams battled illness and fierce heat to reach a third French Open final on Friday, defeating Timea Bacsinszky to move one win away from a 20th Grand Slam title.
The world number one and Paris champion in 2002 and 2013 was clearly ill and distressed for large parts of her semi-final.
Williams vs Safarova French Open Finals
She trailed by a set and a break in the second before racing to a 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 win, reeling off the last 10 games of the semi-final.
Washing dishes, The 33-year-old American will face Czech 13th seed Lucie Safarova, who beat Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 7-5. If Williams win Saturday’s final, it will put her just two Grand Slam titles behind Steffi Graf’s Open record of 22.
Friday’s result was tough on Swiss 23rd seed Bacsinszky who was making a living washing dishes and working in hotels just two years ago during an injury-enforced absence from the tour.
Williams said: “I kept trying to find the energy and keep fighting. I wasn’t feeling well.”
Williams, who went into the tie having lost just three of her 26 Grand Slam semi-finals, was clearly suffering in the 29°C heat.
Her breathing was laboured, she wearily demanded more and more ice-towels during changeovers and was looking increasingly disorientated.
A jubilant Safarova said afterwards: “It’s a dream come true, I still cannot believe it. The happiness is unreal.
“When I realised that I could be in the final, I got tense… I was overthinking and couldn’t really concentrate,” she said.
Safarova was determined not to let the golden opportunity slip through her sweaty fingers on the hottest day of the championships. She marked her victory with a celebratory roll in the famous red clay.
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Serena Williams of the U.S. screams after scoring a point in her semifinal match of the French Open tennis tournament against Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland at the Roland Garros stadium, in Paris, France, Thursday, June 4, 2015.