London, July 4: Twice, Serena Williams stood merely two points from a loss at Wimbledon 2015 against a British opponent buoyed by a roaring, flag-waving Centre Court crowd.
Serena was oh-so-close to the end of her bid for a fourth consecutive major title and for the third leg of a calendar-year Grand Slam.
And twice, pushed to the precipice, Williams regrouped, resisted and wound up winning, as she so often does.
Stomping her foot after misses, alternately screaming in delight or despair, even wagging her finger at fans who booed her, the No. 1-seeded Williams overcame a surprisingly staunch challenge from 59-ranked Heather Watson and emerged with a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 victory in the third round Friday.
"I honestly didn’t think I was going to win,” said Williams.
"We’ve been facing each other a long time," said the 16-seeded Venus, who eliminated 82-ranked Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-3, 6-2.
This will be the 26th all-Williams matchup, and first at a major since Serena beat Venus in the 2009 Wimbledon final.
“It’s unfortunate that it’s so soon,” Serena said.
Sure looked that way when Watson took six straight games to go up two breaks in the third set. Then came an epic, 18-point game that began Williams’ comeback. Watson twice was a point from leading 4-0, but she looked a bit tight, shanking a forehand about 5 feet long, then pushing a forehand wide to get broken.
Still, she broke Williams at love for a 5-4 edge, moving within a game of by far the biggest victory of her career.