Serena Williams is playing like it’s “the summer of 1926.”
On the heels of a decisive victory in the 2021 Australian Open quarterfinals over Romania’s Simona Halep, the 39-year-old tennis star says she feels as spry as she looks.
“It’s definitely been a minute, it’s been a long minute. I think 19…1926, the summer of 1926, I think, was the last time I felt that!” Williams jokingly replied to reporters in Melbourne.
The No. 10-seeded Williams defeated the No. 2-seeded Halep in straight sets (6-3, 6-3) on Tuesday. Many of the points were decided by rallies of nine shots or longer, which would seemingly favor the 29-year-old Halep.
Williams won 14 of 20 of those rallies.
“You know, I’m good at rallying, and I have to embrace the things I’m good at. I’m good at playing power, I’m good at hitting 100 balls, so that’s one thing that’s unique about me,” she said. “I just need to kind of accept it and embrace it, and be good at both, so yeah, I just needed to do that.”
Williams is seeking her 24th Grand Slam title in women’s singles — the most of any player in the Open Era — and eighth Australian Open.
The younger Williams sister has been a dominant force in women’s tennis over the last two decades. She took a hiatus in 2017 after her pregnancy and has advanced to two Wimbledon finals and two U.S. Open finals since her return.
Williams’ last Slam title came in 2017 at the Australian Open against her sister Venus.
Over the past year, she has advanced to the third round of the 2020 Australian Open (defeated by Wang Qiang), the semifinals at the 2020 US Open (Victoria Azarenka) and the second round of the 2020 French Open (withdrew due to injury against Tsvetana Pironkova). Wimbledon was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
With the victory over Halep, she advances to her ninth Australian Open semifinal against No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka of Japan on Wednesday.
The pair have faced each other four times previously and have each won twice.