British No 1 Watson let two match points slip against Williams, giving the 20-time grand slam champion the chance she needed to power her way back into the third-round contest on Centre Court.
Top seed Williams eventually triumphed 6-2 4-6 7-5 to set up a last-16 clash with big sister Venus, but not before Watson showed she had the mettle to match it with the world’s best.
“I know I can beat her and that’s what I’ve learned about myself,” Watson said.
“I know how I would play. Even now I wish I could go back and play one point differently, to maybe try to change things.
“At deuce when I was serving for it, I would have smacked that backhand super-hard if I could go back, rather than just making it.
“It wasn’t to be today. But I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t think I could beat the best in the world.
“I think it was a huge opportunity for me, not just before the match but??during the match towards the end.
“It’s either super-high if you win or quite low if you lose; because she’s the??best in the world that would have been a great achievement for me.”
Former Wimbledon champion Andy Murray took to social media to commend Watson’s heroic defeat, while Williams herself admitted her opponent “should have won the match”.
The American said Watson’s endurance and talent showed she could secure a ranking high within the world’s top 20.
“I think this is a match I would have lost last year or the year before,”??said Williams of her three-set tussle with Watson.
“The older I get, I think the tougher I get upstairs.”
Williams will face her older sister Venus in the fourth round.??While Serena is gunning for the calendar grand slam, Venus is searching her??first Wimbledon title since 2008.
“I expect more people to be rooting for Venus. I would be??rooting for Venus. She’s been through so much,” Serena said of her older sister’s battle with Sjogren’s syndrome, a debilitating autoimmune disease.
“She’s been so inspiring to a lot of people with the same things that she goes through, too.”
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