Overcoming heat & Timea #Bacsinszky, @serenawilliams reaches her 24th major final. READ: http://t.co/OqIngZyYaX #RG15 pic.twitter.com/kBxHOY1vhG— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 4, 2015
I once saw Serena Williams win a major final while being wrapped like a mummy in bandages all over her body. I once saw her win an important match at the Australian Open when she had functional use of only one leg and one hand. So it was no surprise today when the world number 1 won her French Open semifinal while experiencing some really nasty flu symptoms that caused her to sweat profusely and stagger around the court. Williams defeated Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-0.
Serena Williams is a warrior in the classic literary sense. She has endured the ugliest racism, the most repulsive misogyny, a series of significant bodily injuries, the break-ups of significant relationships, her sister's murder, Venus's chronic illness, and a near-death illness of her own. And she has used all of these things to make her tougher and more resilient. She is simply amazing.
I'm going to say, however, what others seem to be shying away from because of their awe of Serena and their great regard for Bacsinszky: Bacsinszky blew it. She might not have won the match, but she could have made it a lot closer (or even won it?) had she not mentally collapsed in the third set. Was the collapse caused by the "not ready for prime time" fear syndrome? Or was it caused by the very sight of a resurgent Williams on the other side of the net? I'm going to go with the first answer because I don't think Bacsinszky was that afraid to face Serena--or anyone.
Timea Bacsinszky is a class act and it was a pleasure to see her make a run to the semifinals of a major. And there will be more of the same to come, I believe.
She's done it! @luciesafarova thru to 1st GS Final, d #Ivanovic 75 75. 1st Czech woman to reach final here since '81. pic.twitter.com/mWyhNC4i3f— Roland Garros (@rolandgarros) June 4, 2015
Williams' opponent in the final will be Lucie Safarova, who has yet to drop a set (in singles or doubles) at the French Open. Yesterday, someone Tweeted me that Ana Ivanovic would take Safarova out, and I was thinking "in what parallel universe?" Safarova is a woman on a mission, and it's been a long time coming. And Ivanovic, for all her talent, can handle only so much pressure. And pressure she got, almost every moment, from the aggressive Safarova.
The Czech star, for her part, displayed both the blessing and the curse of being a lefty. She served her way to success (as she has the entire tournament), but she got shaky when she realized she was about to advance to the final of the French Open. Serving at 5-4, Safarova double-faulted away her match point. But, like many players who are prone toward anxiety, Safarova found it an easier job to break Ivanovic in the next game than to hold her own serve.
After breaking, Safarova did hold her own serve, defeating Ivanovic 7-5, 7-5. The first-time major finalist hit 36 winners, 18 of them with her forehand, and 18 with her backhand. Lucie's body language tells the story: The lanky Czech now walks around the court with an air of confidence and competence; she looks like a different person.
We also got a champion today: Bethanie Mattek-Sands, with partner Mike Bryan, won the mixed doubles title, defeating Lucie Hradecka and Marcin Matkowski 7-6, 6-1 in the final. Mattek-Sands is still alive in women's doubles, too, with partner Safarova. The pair won the 2015 Australian Open.