Serena Williams consoles Ukrainian teen after winning match: ‘Don’t cry’

Serena Williams paid a tribute to Billie Jean King after her win against young Dayana Yastremska on Saturday afternoon, before making an impassioned call to her male counterparts to join the fight for equal pay across the board.

"Don't cry. You did really well".

The 37-year-old won her 23rd Grand Slam Down Under two years ago while two months pregnant and is the bookies' favourite to claim an eighth Australian title, despite being seeded 16th.

Since returning to the tour after maternity leave, Williams has yet to win a grand slam as a mother after two near-misses in the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.

World No.1 Simona Halep will face 23-time Slam champion Serena Williams in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open on Monday.


Fresh off a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of Venus Williams at Margaret Court Arena, Halep is scheduled to face Williams' younger sister, Serena, on Sunday.

Not only has Serena won every set she played this week - and 20 in a row at Melbourne Park, dating to the start of her 2017 run to the title (she sat out last year's tournament after having a baby) - but Williams has ceded a total of only nine games through three victories. The 37-year-old player, in the sweetest gesture, walked towards Dayana and consoled her while she was crying. "I liked that. It showed that she wasn't just there to play the match, she was there to win". It shows she wasn't just there to play a good match, she was there to win.

"You go out there and you want to win. That really broke my heart", Williams said.

As good as Halep is, the head to head history proves that no matter how athletic she is and how impressive she is defensively, Serena can hit through her and take the racket out of her hands. "It's good to see that attitude", she added.

Seeded 16th in Melbourne, she felt torn about who she might like to play next but said a match against top seed Halep would test her true level.


"I was ... struggling", said Svitolina, who was treated by a trainer after the second set.

Persistence paid off when Halep converted her fourth break opportunity, darting forward to crack a backhand beyond Williams' reach. She needed to do [that] to regain her confidence.

"I think I'm getting there".

She's expending so little mental energy in her matches that when they end, she has more to give, switching as if by autopilot into the role of mentor and motherly ambassador of the game. "It's going to be a bigger challenge". "In this moment, I'm No. 1 in the world, so I will take that".

Halep's only wins over Serena came in Singapore in 2014 and a walkover in the 2015 Indian Wells.


Further afield if Williams prevails, potentially, are players who have downed Williams at grand slams, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka.

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