WIMBLEDON, England - Absolutely perfect - 24 points played, 24 points won.
Can't be any better than wild-card entry Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan was at the beginning of her third-round match at Wimbledon on Saturday, winning every 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 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.
Now things figure to get 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 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.
The 5-foot-4½-inch Zheng watched one second-serve ace kick so high that it bounced over her head. Otherwise, though, she stood tall against the 5-9 Williams, zipping flat groundstrokes that barely cleared the net.
"I just wanted to get through that match," said Williams, who was upset in the first round at the French Open in late May and hasn't won a Grand Slam title in two years. "The last thing I wanted to do was lose."
Her buddy and possible London Olympics mixed doubles partner, Andy Roddick, did lose. The 29-year-old American, three times the runner-up to Roger Federer at the All England Club, blew a kiss to the Centre Crowd as he walked off after being beaten 2-6, 7-6 (8), 6-4, 6-3 by No. 7-seeded David Ferrer but said he hasn't made up his mind about his future in the sport.
"If I don't have a definitive answer in my own mind, it's going to be tough for me to articulate a definitive answer to you," the 30th-seeded Roddick said.
Another American, Sam Querrey, also departed, with a 7-6 (6), 6-4, 6-7 (2), 6-7 (3), 17-15 loss to No. 16 Marin Cilic of Croatia. The 5½-hour match is the second-longest in tournament history, behind the 11-hour, 5-minute marathon that John Isner won 70-68 in the fifth set against Nicolas Mahut in 2010.
Two other U.S. men made the fourth round: 126th-ranked qualifier Brian Baker, who was off the tour for about six years after a series of operations; and 10th-seeded Mardy Fish, who is in his first tournament since having a medical procedure on his heart in May.
Winners also included No. 4 Andy Murray, whose four-set victory over Marcos Baghdatis ended at 11:02 p.m.; No. 5 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 27 Philipp Kohlschreiber, who beat the man who beat Rafael Nadal, Lukas Rosol, 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (6).