Serena Williams was penalised by one of the less frequently enforced rules in tennis during her fourth-round win, after she reached over the net to strike the ball in her last-16 win over Carla Suarez Navarro at Wimbledon.
Williams, who will go on to face compatriot Alison Riske in the quarter-finals, was up 4-2 in the opening set and on break point on her opponent’s serve when she stormed to the net to thump home a backhand volley.
But rather than moving 5-2 up, Williams instead lost the point.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion didn’t seem to be aware of the rule, saying to the chair umpire: ‘It [the racquet] was definitely over, but I thought that was ok. It’s not, ok.’
There was little fuss from the American great, who carried on going about her business and she broke in the same game before going on to thump the 30th seed 6-2 6-2.
After the match, she confirmed she was unaware of the law but was relieved it happened in her singles match rather than when sharing the court with Andy Murray in doubles.
‘I definitely didn’t realise it was a rule,’ Williams said. ‘But I absolutely did have my hand over, so she definitely made the right call. I feel like I may have done that before like in doubles, so…
‘I’m glad, because I don’t want to make that mistake in our “Murena” doubles match. I’m glad that happened here.’
Asked if it’s a good rule, she added: ‘I don’t think about it. I guess it should be on your side of the court. I guess if it bounced on your side and flipped back over, then you can reach over. That’s what I was thinking of. But it didn’t bounce on my side and go back over, so…
‘Yeah, I think it’s a good rule. It’s tennis. I should know the rules.’
Riske awaits Williams in Tuesday’s quarter-finals after taking out world No. 1 Ash Barty, and the beaten Australian warned Williams of the dangers her compatriot poses on this surface.
‘I think regardless of who she plays next, whether it’s Serena or Carla, she’s got a great chance,’ Barty said.
‘You just have to look at her stats on a grass court to show just how dangerous she is. She’s very comfortable on the grass court. It complements her game well. I think today in the crunch moments, she came up with her best tennis. When her back is against the wall, she plays really well typically. She did that today. All credit to her.
‘She deserves to be in the quarterfinals. She played a great match today.’
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