After No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka was upset Friday morning by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Williams became one of four Top 10 seeds in the women’s draw.
“It was really good for me,” Williams said afterwards in his post-game press conference. “Things were not going my way. It’s not like she gave me those games. I had to win it and reverse it. It was really positive for me going into the next game.
She aims to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam tournaments, but has not passed the fourth round at Roland Garros since 2016.
Williams, three-time Roland-Garros champion, was tested throughout the meeting by her compatriot.
In a heavy hitting, guns blazing first set, Collins was forced to defend break points and even a set point until Williams was finally able to seal the first set with an ace.
And with an opening break in the second set, it looked like Collins could fall apart.
But showing remarkable determination in the face of adversity, the 27-year-old played four straight games to take a 4-1 lead.
Falling into that deficit seemed to wake Williams up, as she won five straight games to qualify for the fourth round in Paris for the 13th time.
“It was a little disappointing after leading 4-1,” Collins said afterwards. “I think Serena played really good tennis to come back. I don’t think I played my best in those moments. I just have to try to learn from it, I hope to do better next time and be able to. close the set.
“I said [after the match] I would love to see her win the whole thing and I would support her. I think we all admire and love Serena, especially the American players. It was pretty surreal today to go out there and play against someone I remember seeing when I was 9 and 10, playing here, being here, sharing that land with her, that experience. I hope I can be a springboard for her to win another slam. It would be really exciting and cool, so I’m going to follow every point. “
Williams will now face No. 21 seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan for a place in the quarter-finals.
In addition to the withdrawals of Naomi Osaka and Ashleigh Barty, there were some high-profile causalities that opened the draw to others.
Sabalenka’s loss on Friday comes on top of losses from top seeds such as Karolina Pliskova, Bianca Andreescu and Belinda Bencic.
For Williams, who has won 23 Grand Slam tournaments, a chance to match Court’s record may never be more presentable, but she is looking to win her first Grand Slam title since 2017.