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Very little that happens on a playing field involves courage, not when compared to the people who put their lives on the line every day here and overseas. That said, what Serena Williams did yesterday in the round of 16 at Wimbledon was as close to courageous as you get in a sports setting.

In case you missed it, Williams, the seventh seed in the women's draw, cruised through the first set against Daniela Hantuchova, ran into a rut early in the second set, then appeared to be on the comeback trail. That is until, with the set at 5-5, Williams suffered what appeared to be a muscle cramp, one so severe that she could be seen crying and heard screaming in pain, antics that were duly noted by the European press.

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It looked for the longest time as if Williams would have to withdraw, but after she was treated by medical staff, she was able to force a tiebreak, which she lost.

Still, it appeared that Williams would be toast in a third set, but luckily, a 90-minute rain delay hit the hallowed grounds, giving Williams a chance to be fully treated. From there, wearing her warm-up pants and with limited mobility, Williams crushed the Slovakian 6-2 in the final set to win a compelling match.

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Afterward, Williams, who faces top seed Justine Henin in the next round tomorrow, said a drop shot from Hantuchova fired her up and in the seventh game of the set, Williams hit a gorgeous passing shot that just tickled the baseline, then bombed an ace on game point, to go ahead 5-2. 
"I figured it was over, and I was going to die trying," said Williams. "My heart wouldn't give out."

You have to wonder what a loss like this will do to the psyche of Hantuchova going forward. She'll have to live with the memory of being unable to beat a player, essentially reduced to one leg.

Asked how she would feel if she lost to a player in a similar situation, Williams smiled and said "Well, if she (the opponent) was Serena Williams, I wouldn't feel that bad."

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