As her top-seeded peers [correction: at No. 25, Williams would become the lowest seed ever to win Wimbledon] bent to the pressures of facing fearless underdogs, Williams approached every match knowing her opponents would play their best tennis against her, and elevated her own game in response.
LONDON-Serena Williams has been saying it over and over and over: Wimbledon is only her fourth tournament since returning to the tour after having a baby.
Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams' coach of six years, has had an open and casual relationship with the press in the past, speaking freely about Williams play and, more recently, her comeback.
"Every time I go out there, I want to, I guess, take a giant step forward", she said.
Williams will face off with Kerber on Saturday; if she is victorious, she'll tie Margaret Court's all-time record for grand slam singles titles. "It's such a great feeling".
After hitting five aces with a serve that reached 119 miles per hour, delivering 16 winners to only seven unforced errors, and covering the court so well with speed and effort, Williams will face another German, 11th-seeded Angelique Kerber, on Saturday.
When I start this year, a goal was to be playing good in majors, in the Grand Slams, and to reach finals again.
Williams' pregnancy was not without complications, as she told the BBC this week: "It's no secret I had a super tough delivery". She knows how to play on this court.
"Because of all the blood issues I have, It was really touch-and-go for a minute. I want to get as many as I can, starting with". "For me, I only see joy out of it", Williams said with a smile.
In post-match interviews, she has talked candidly about motherhood. "I guess it's the first one that is hard to know if she'll win multiple Slams, but the first one is hard to know". For that first title Serena had to beat Martina Hingis, who was a little over a year older than her but had already won five Slams.
But that's changed this year at Wimbledon. The Australian's 24 singles majors remains a record, with Williams one behind.
When her big bombs did hit the mark they drew gasps from the crowd - but they were few and far between. Williams first came back by playing doubles with her older sister, Venus, for the U.S. Fed Cup team in February.
On Henman Hill on Friday, other mothers were full of admiration for Williams, her achievements and the example she was setting.
The tables have now turned in her favor and rightfully so.
"She's carrying a message and on a platform that is so much bigger than a tournament or a sport, " said Jill Smoller, her long-time agent.