Serena Williams passed her first proper test with style by beating France’s Kristina Mladenovic to reach the Wimbledon fourth round, BBC Sport reports
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, on a comeback after giving birth, went a break down against the former top-10 player but won 7-5 7-6 (7-2).
While the women’s seeds have been tumbling early here, Williams has advanced without dropping a set.
She faces fellow mum and world number 120 Evgeniya Rodina of Russia next. Rodina defeated Venus Williams also on Friday.
With eight of the top 10 women’s seeds now out, the road for former world number one Williams to win an eighth Wimbledon singles title is looking ever clearer.
In her first-round victory over Arantxa Rus, the American was laboured at times in gusty conditions, while against Viktoriya Tomova she moved around the court much better and overpowered her with her winners and improved serving.
And now, against Mladenovic she showed she could dig herself out of difficulty if necessary – winning four games in a row when 5-3 down to take the first set.
She carried on where she left off in the second set to go an early break up before the world number 62 broke back. The Frenchwoman went on to save a match point to force a tie-break.
But Williams found a new gear in the tie-break and sealed her 17th Wimbledon win in a row with her 13th ace.
“I’m really happy. I had an early break in the second set so I will look back and see what went wrong there. But it’s going pretty well,” she said.
“I worked really, really, really hard and it has been a long arduous road but I always expected to come out and do the best I could do. That’s all I hoped for.”
By reaching the fourth round, Williams has matched her showing at last month’s French Open, which was her first Grand Slam tournament since having her daughter last September.
The 36-year-old could have gone further there but pulled out of her last-16 match with Maria Sharapova with an injury.
As the oldest woman left in the draw, after her 38-year-old sister Venus was knocked out on Friday, Williams is still leaving the younger players like 25-year-old Mladenovic behind.
And despite her seeding of 25, and her world ranking of 181, she is looking every bit the player to beat.
“It doesn’t really matter who I am playing,” she said. “Every opponent is playing their ‘A’ game as we are seeing in this tournament with the top players going out. Technically I’m not a top player but I have the wins of one.”