WIMBLEDON, England — Absolutely perfect — 24 points played, 24 points won.
Can’t be any better than wild-card entry Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazahstan was at the beginning of her third-round match at Wimbledon on Saturday, winning every single point in the 15-minute first set of what became a 6-0, 6-4 victory over French Open runner-up Sara Errani of Italy. It’s the only “golden set” for a woman in the 44 years of professional tennis.
Of all the ways a point can be lost — a double-fault, for example, or an opponent’s ace; one ball that floats a half-inch wide or long or catches the tape of the net, say, or even a lucky shot off the other player’s racket that somehow finds a line, etc., etc. — none happened during Shvedova’s 15 minutes of fame.
“Apparently, it’s the biggest news of the day: I lost a set without winning a point. Unbelievable,” the 10th-seeded Errani said. “She was impossible to play against. I don’t even feel like I played terribly. She just was hitting winners from every part of the court.”
The 65th-ranked Shvedova didn’t even realize what was happening. Not until she was in the gym afterward, cooling down, when her coach pointed out the accomplishment.
“I had no idea. I was just playing every point and every game,” said Shvedova, a 24-year-old who won two Grand Slam doubles titles in 2010 with Vania King of the U.S.
“I was, like, ‘What’s going on?” Shvedova said.
Now things figure to get a tad tougher. In the fourth round Monday, she’ll face Serena Williams, whose 13 Grand Slam titles include four at the All England Club.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to win a point in the set,” Williams said, somehow keeping a straight face. “That will be my first goal, and then I’ll go from there.”
She actually came rather close to exiting Saturday, needing every one of her tournament-record 23 aces to come back and edge 25th-seeded Zheng Jie of China 6-7 (5), 6-2, 9-7. Williams won all 18 of her service games and saved all six break points she faced.
Three times, while down 5-4, 6-5 and 7-6 in the final set, she served to stay in the match — and the tournament.
Each time, she won the pivotal game at love.
“I definitely felt like it was a gut check,” she said. “I’ve always been really strong mentally. That’s not going anywhere.”