'Really satisfying': Serena Williams gets last laugh in Ash Barty 'disgrace'

After being labelled an ‘absolute disgrace’ for not knowing Ash Barty was World No.1, Serena Williams has well and truly had the last laugh.

Former Aussie player Sam Groth slammed Serena last week after she admitted to missing the news of Barty’s ascension to the top of the rankings.

But after Barty crashed out of Wimbledon at the hands of Alison Riske on Monday, Serena has powered into the semi-finals - taking down the women who beat Barty in a major statement.

The seven-time champion reached her 12th Wimbledon semi-final on Tuesday with a hard fought 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Riske.

The 37-year-old Williams, who is two wins away from equalling Margaret Court's Grand Slam singles title record haul of 24, looked far from convincing as Riske pushed her the whole way over an engrossing two-hour duel.

However, Williams served it out with an ace to seal her 97th win at Wimbledon and avoid the same fate as Barty.

Ash Barty crashed out, while Serena Williams is into the semi-finals again. Image: Getty
Ash Barty is out, while Serena Williams is into the semis. Image: Getty

"It was really satisfying," said Williams, whose clay court season was affected by a knee injury.

"I wouldn't have won that match a couple of weeks ago.

"I'm glad that I was able to come through. She beat so many great players. She was really so close to taking the win today."

Williams, who kept to her old habit in the changeovers of reading notes she had written herself, said it had been a long year for her already due to the injury.

"This is the first time since Australia that I actually felt good," she said.

"I don't know where I am. I do know I feel good. Now that I feel good, I can actually focus on training and technique and practice, something that I just literally haven't been able to do a lot of."

Serena: ‘I am past older’

Williams, who moved into second place overall behind Martina Navratilova's record of 120 Wimbledon match wins, was constantly cajoling herself, letting out roars of "come on" during the match as her sometimes leaden-footed performance threatened to undo her.

Having sealed the match she turned to the players box where amongst others she was supported by older sister Venus and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and yelled, pumping her fists.

"I was really pumped, it was for a place in the semis at Wimbledon -- that doesn't happen every day and it's a long, arduous road," said Williams.

"I just had to just button up and play hard. She was playing her heart out and she had nothing to lose and I realised neither did I."

Ohanian, too, was getting into the match up in the box, although, Williams did not take much note of it.

Serena Williams shakes hands with Alison Riske after their match at Wimbledon. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)
Serena Williams shakes hands with Alison Riske after their match. (Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Getty Images)

"Towards the end I saw the box jumping, which is, looking back, really cool," she said.

"Most of all I don't really notice the emotions. I know it's extremely hard in the box, though."

Williams concurred with Navratilova's remark that as she got older she felt the pressure more but she was past that stage now.

"Now that I am past older, I feel a little bit less pressure," she said smiling.

"I'm so serious. I definitely felt pressure, like not so much when I was younger, and then older, yes, yes, yes.

"Now it's like I've done everything I need to do. Like, I've had a great career, so I don't feel the pressure as much any more."

Strycova awaits

Desperate to match Court's record 24 singles majors, Williams will play unseeded Czech Barbora Strycova on Thursday for a place in Saturday's title decider.

Strycova crushed British hopes with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 win over Johanna Konta in Tuesday's last quarter-final.

Williams' fellow former world No.1 Simona Halep took out Zhang Shuai 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to advance to the last four for the first time since 2014.

The Romanian seventh seed will face eighth seed Elina Svitolina, a 7-5 6-4 victor over over Czech surprise packet Karolina Muchova.

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Halep is vowing to play with total freedom having passed the mantle as the sport's best player without a major to Svitolina with her breakthrough French Open final triumph last year.

"The pressure is off," Halep said.

"I just came here relaxed. I came here motivated to see how good I can be on grass. I'm happy on court.

"This helps me a lot.I will try to be my best version of myself in the semis."

After years of unfilled promise, Svitolina is Ukraine's first women's grand slam semi-finalist.

"It feels amazing," the 24-year-old said.

"I actually didn't expect it to happen here. It is exciting and I am looking forward to it already."

with agencies