“This is the difference between champions and everyone else,” Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach, said on Thursday after the tennis great staged a dramatic comeback at the French Open. “There is no logical explanation. She just has an ability to react when she’s in danger.” The No. 1 ranked Williams was battling the flu, 85-degree heat and a tenacious opponent in 23rd-seeded Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland, who won the first set and held a 3-2 lead over the two-time French Open champion in the second set. Williams, indeed, was in deep danger of being eliminated, but in spite of the heat and her ailing health, she dug down deep and battled back on the red clay of Roland Garros. She pulled out the second set, and thundered to a resounding 6-0 victory in the third set to advance to the finals where she’ll face 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic on Saturday. At the post-match press-conference, Williams was visibly ill. “I tried, I tried,” she said. “I found the energy. I don’t know where, but I found it. And I won. I hope that on Saturday, I hope …” Williams then began coughing and, overcome, left the podium giving reporters a wave. A victory on Saturday would propel Williams to the third French Open title of her tremendous career.
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