Serena Williams clenched her fist and yelled herself on to overcome the Italian who posed the first serious questions of ‘Supermom, the Return’.
Just looking at the pair of them as they came out on Centre Court, you would not have put a punnet of strawberries on the petite, blonde opponent being any match for Williams’ sheer firepower.
Williams, flushed with success, rich beyond dreams, buoyed by giving birth to her first child 10 months ago, carried herself out to the scene of so many of her triumphs with an impassive, unsmiling professionalism.
But anyone who knew anything about Williams’ opponent, Camila Giorgi, would tell you that belying her 5ft 6in frame are power, aggression and pace.
As the official Championships programme notes put it, the 26-year-old from Pisa, ‘plays as if she’s trying to blow down the leaning tower in one blast.’
And so it proved as Giorgi, the 52nd best player in the world, took the first set with a break in the sixth game. She was never going to stand on ceremony. She had no taste for long rallies. She would shoot on sight.
Williams had moved through her first four matches with an easy butchery and, with the top 10 seeds all gone, the road to a remarkable eight titles here was opening up wider than the Mall. Giorgi was not going to wave her through, though. But then Williams roared those ‘Come on’ encouragements to herself and responded with gusto.
Was Serena ever worried that she might lose? ‘No, it’s weird,’ she said. ‘Sometimes, I feel, man, I’m in trouble. Sometimes I feel I can fight. For whatever reason, today I was so calm. Even when I was down in the first set, I thought I was doing a lot of things right.
‘I knew I would have to serve well because she is so aggressive on her returns,’ said Williams. Credit: dailymail.co.uk