WIMBLEDON, England — Absolutely perfect — 24 points played, 24 points won.
Can't be any better than wild-card entry Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazahstan was at the beginning of her third-round match at Wimbledon on Saturday, winning every single 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 even 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.
Shvedova did notice the way spectators at Court 3 applauded and yelled after Errani stopped the streak by taking the opening point of the second set.
"I was, like, 'What's going on?" Shvedova said.
Now things figure to get a tad 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 actually 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.
Three times, while down 5-4, 6-5 and 7-6 in the final set, she served to stay in the match — and the tournament.
Each time, she won the pivotal game at love.
"It's good to know that I can rely on that," said the sixth-seeded Williams, who also held the previous Wimbledon women's mark of 20 aces.
With the American's older sister, five-time Wimbledon champion Venus, sitting in the front row right above the scoreboard, and Oscar-winning actor Dustin Hoffman ("Major fan of his. ... I was honored to have him in my box," she said) there in support, too, Williams broke for an 8-7 lead in the last set by smacking a big return that left an off-balance Zheng hitting a wild forehand long.
After a couple hiccups while trying to serve it out, including a double-fault and two wasted match points, Williams ended the nearly 2 1/2-hour contest with a 102 mph service winner, followed by a stretch backhand volley winner. She celebrated with a huge leap.
"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 5 1/2-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.
"I'm bummed. I'm sad," Querrey said. "But I'm sure tomorrow I'll be over it and really look back and say that was a great match and it's a good steppingstone for the summer."
Two other U.S. men did make 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 late May and hasn't faced anyone ranked higher than 70th.
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).
Women joining Williams and Shvedova in the fourth round were defending champion Petra Kvitova, second-seeded Victoria Azarenka, recent French Open champions Ana Ivanovic and Francesca Schiavone, No. 21 Roberta Vinci and unseeded Tamira Paszek.