LONDON: Serena Williams has warned her Wimbledon rivals she is nowhere near her best despite powering into the quarter-finals without dropping a set.
Williams is chasing an eighth Wimbledon crown and the American star showed why she is the title favourite with a 6-2, 6-2 demolition of Evgeniya Rodina in the fourth round on Monday.
In her 13th Wimbledon quarter-final, Serena faces Italian world number 52 Camila Giorgi on Tuesday.
The path to the title appears wide open for the 36-year-old after every female top seed crashed out before the last eight for the first time in Wimbledon history.
Garbine Muguruza, Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova, Venus Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens have all been eliminated.
The carnage at the top leaves 11th seed Angelique Kerber — beaten by Serena in the 2016 Wimbledon final — as the highest ranked player left.
Williams isn’t complaining about the high number of shock results, but she couldn’t resist at jab at the Wimbledon organisers who only seeded her 25th despite her remarkable record.
“I faced a thousand and three seeds in my life, so I’m okay,” she said.
“Things happen. On both sides, men’s and women’s, there’s been a tremendous amount of upsets.
“I don’t think this has happened to this extreme. But also I’ve never been ranked where I am when this has happened before, so usually, I’m one of those few seeds left that’s still fighting and still in the tournament.
“Now that I’m not, it kind of happened!”
It’s not as if Serena needs much encouragement to dominate at Wimbledon, where she has already reached nine finals.
Having shaken off the rust following her lengthy lay-off after the birth of her daughter Olympia in September, she is rounding nicely into form for the business end of the tournament.
Ominously for the other seven women left in the draw, the 23-time Grand Slam champion, who missed Wimbledon last year but won the title on her previous two visits, insists there is still plenty of room for improvement.
“There’s a lot to improve on. This is only my fourth tournament back,” said Williams, who has won all three of her previous meetings with Giorgi.
“For me, there’s so much farther I want to go to get back where I was, and hopefully go beyond that.
“I’m always striving for perfection. There’s a lot of things that, I don’t know if you can tell, but I really need to work on. Hopefully, I can get there.”
– No pressure –
Of the other quarter-finalists, only Kerber and former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko have won Grand Slams.
Kerber, who won the Australian and US Open in 2016, takes on Russian 14th seed Daria Kasatkina.
“I’m not feeling the pressure because I’m not looking on the seeded or who is left or not,” Kerber said of her improved title chances.
“For every single day that I’m here trying to do my best. This is all I’m focusing on. It’s still a long way until the end.”
Latvian 12th seed Ostapenko plays former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova.
“At the French Open I had all that pressure, now it’s gone,” former junior Wimbledon champion Ostapenko said.
“I’m just not afraid to miss. I’m just going for the shots.”
Kiki Bertens took care of the last of the top 10 with a 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) victory over Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova.
Bertens, who was contemplating retirement last year after losing her enthusiasm for the sport, is the first Dutch woman to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Michaella Krajicek in 2007.
The 26-year-old faces German 13th seed Julia Goerges, who beat Donna Vekic to seal her first Grand Slam quarter-final berth at the 42nd attempt.
“This is for me something pretty special,” Goerges said.
“It sounds pretty strange when you saw my record from the last five years here. I didn’t expect it, honestly.”