Serena: ‘I didn’t choke’
SERENA Williams denies choking against Karolina Pliskova, insisting Margaret Court's grand slam record is still within reach despite harrowing Australian Open defeat.
Leading Karolina Pliskova 5-1 (40-30) in the third set, Williams twice served for a semi-final berth and held four match points but came up short.
Winner of 23 majors, Williams described her collapse as a "learning experience."
"I don't really take losses well," the American said.
"But, like I said, Karolina literally played lights out starting 5-1, 40-30.
"Literally I've never seen anything like it.
"Next time I'm up 5-1 against anybody, whether it's her or anyone, I just need to make sure I play lights out when I have match points.
"It's little things like that that I used to do, always do, that I need matches to know that, Okay, 'This is when you go psycho, when you have match point.'
"It's a good learning experience to know the next time that I have match point, like, Okay, 'just like go bananas on it'."
Williams refused to blame a rolled ankle or a foot fault call early in the third set.
She also ruled out choking.
"There's nothing I did wrong on those match points. I didn't do anything wrong," she said.
"I stayed aggressive. She just literally hit the lines on some of them.
"One she hit an ace, unreturnable serve.
"Like I literally did everything I could on those match points.
"Yeah, I can't say that I choked on those match points. She literally played her best tennis ever on those shots."
Williams will next target the French Open, seeking to match Court's record of 24 singles majors.
"I know that there's a lot more that I need to do to kind of get there," she said.
"10 months, soon to be 11 months, soon it will be 12 months. It just takes time."
US Open finalist Pliskova described the win as the best of her career.
"From being a set down or a break down, so nothing like this," she said.
"I think it's going to be the best comeback ever so far in my life.
"I think the biggest win against her for me is that I believed I could win this match.
"That's how I started the match actually. I got my chance. I just went for it. I think maybe she didn't expect it from the beginning.
"She looked like she was a little too passive.
Then she just went for it because I believed from the first ball I can win. I think that was the biggest victory for me today."
Pliskova will face Japan's Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals with the winner to meet either Czech Petra Kvitova or American Danielle Collins in Saturday's final.
Osaka thrashed Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to reach her second major semi-final.