By Kelyn Soong
Over the last couple years both players have been dismissed as past their primes, too old to dominate the game they once owned.
But Roger Federer and Serena Williams, both 30, have been turning back the clock these past few weeks, conquering the blue clay at the Madrid Open and continuing their win streaks at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, Italy.
With the title – his third in Madrid – Federer surpassed rival Rafael Nadal for the world No. 2 spot and Williams moved up three positions to No. 6, her highest ranking since 2010.
Federer, owner of 16 Grand Slams, continues to deliver on the big stages – showing consistency that few, if any, other players possess. Thirteen-time major champion Williams appears to be returning her dominating form, with convincing straight sets wins over former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova and current world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in Madrid.
Seeded third in Rome, Federer has battled his way into the quarterfinals and will play crowd favorite, Italian Andreas Seppi next. Seppi saved six match points in his fourth round encounter with Federer’s compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.
No. 9 seed Williams has reached the semifinals in Rome after Italy’s Flavia Pennetta retired while being down 4-0 in the first set due to a right wrist injury. Williams awaits the winner of 14th seed Dominika Cibulkova and eighth seeded Li Na. Older sister Venus will face No. 2 seed Maria Sharapova in a quarterfinal matchup.
Whether it’s the blue clay of Madrid or the classic red clay of Rome, both players are rising to the occasion and are still on top of the game that was once undisputedly theirs. It wasn’t long ago that some fans and analysts began writing Federer and Serena off as no longer contenders, but these champions continue to prove skeptics wrong.
And these two are just getting warmed up for the main show that begins May 22 at Roland Garros.