PARIS (AP) — Serena Williams employed verbal motivation to help her recover from a 4-1 deficit in the second set of a 6-4, 6-4 victory over fellow American Danielle Collins in the third round of the French Open on Friday.
Yelling, “C’mon,” and, “Move your feet,” Williams started dominating again with big serves and crushed returns that the 50th-ranked Collins had no answer for.
“That felt really good for me,” Williams said. “Things were not going my way. It’s not like she gave me those games. I had to earn it and turn it around. That was really positive for me going into the next match.
“I needed to find me, know who I am,” Williams added. ”Nobody is Serena out here. It’s me. It’s pretty cool.”
The turnaround was also evidenced in Collins’ body language and conversations with herself. The Floridian, who grew up emulating the Williams sisters and playing on public courts just like they did, let her racket drop from her hands and then kicked it away in frustration after missing one particularly important shot.
Collins also sarcastically said, “That’s excellent,” after shanking another shot following a long rally that appeared to conclude with an awkward bounce in the final game.
Williams needed three sets to get by Mihaela Buzarnescu in the previous round and she clearly did not want to go the distance again this time. Even when a series of untimely double-faults early in the second set enabled Collins to win four consecutive games.
Williams’ determination was also witnessed during the first set when she ran down a drop shot from behind the court and won the point to break for a 4-3 lead.
When it was done, Williams and Collins both smiled as they shared a friendly embrace at the net.
Collins said that she told Williams she would “love to see her win the whole thing.”
“She’s the greatest player of all time,” Collins added. “I think we all admire and love Serena, especially the American players. It was pretty surreal today to go out there and be playing against somebody I remember watching at age 9 and 10.”
Still chasing a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, the 39-year-old Williams next faces 21st-seeded Elena Rybakina, who defeated Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for the first time at a major.