5 Grand Escapes That Have Kept Serena's Slam Hopes Alive

Yes, Serena Williams has won 24 straight matches at majors. And, yes, she's 35-1 this year. But in five of her past eight wins -- all at majors -- she has needed at least a minor miracle to escape. Here's a look at the tightrope Williams has somehow been walking as she tries to complete her second career Serena Slam and keep her hopes for her first calendar-year Slam alive.

French Open, third round

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Playing against one of the fiercest competitors of her career, Williams won 10 of the final 12 games, including the last six, to top former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 at Roland Garros. "I was just really down and out in that match," Williams said, "and I just feel like I just really zeroed in. I really focused, and I really wanted to win that."

French Open, fourth round

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Less than 48 hours after clawing her way back against Azarenka, Williams needed another great escape. A game away from defeat, Williams stormed back to beat Sloane Stephens in a 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 thriller. Williams overcame 43 unforced errors in the two-hour showdown against her fellow American. "It's not how you start, I guess. It's how you finish," Williams said. "That's kind of how I'm looking at it."

French Open, semifinals

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For the fourth straight match at Roland Garros (she also had to rally in the second round against Anna-Lena Friedsam), Williams dropped the first set. For the fourth straight time, she found a way to advance. And this one may have been her most impressive of them all. Down a set and a break in the second set, Williams won the final 10 games to beat Timea Bacsinszky 4-6, 6-3, 6-0. Williams said after the match that she had been battling the flu. "I don't think I've ever been this sick. I didn't expect to win that. I can't believe I won.''

French Open, final


This one started out smooth but turned bumpy. Still showing signs of illness, Williams won the first set and then had to stave off an upset bid from Lucie Safarova for a 6-3, 6-7 (2), 6-2 win that sealed her 20th Grand Slam title. "This is very special for me," Williams said. "I haven't always played very well here, but I'm really happy to win the 20th here."

Wimbledon, third round

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It looked like Williams would cruise into a highly anticipated match against her sister -- at least for a little while. But with the Centre Court crowd emphatically supporting its hometown player, Heather Watson turned the match around in a hurry. Down 3-0 and 5-4 in the third set, twice within two points of elimination, Williams dug deep for a 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 win. "I've had some tough losses, but that was probably my toughest match I've played (on Centre Court)," Williams said.

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