Serena Williams cruised to the round of 16 of the Australian Open, beating 18-year-old Ukranian Dayana Yastremska on Saturday, 6-2, 6-1, in a 67-minute match in the third round.
After her victory, the 23-time Grand Slam champion noticed how emotional Yastremska was after her loss, and as Yastremska wiped the tears from her face, Williams comforted her with a hug and some encouraging words.
“Don’t cry. You did really well.” 37-year-old Williams was heard telling Yastremska, reminding her opponent that she’s only a teenager still. She told Yastremska, who was born in 2000, a few months after Williams won her first Grand Slam at the 1999 US Open: “You’re so young.”
Next up, Williams will play world No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round of the tournament Sunday, as she fights to win her eighth Australian Open and 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie Margaret Court’s all-time record. Halep topped Venus Williams, 6-2, 6-3, also on Saturday.
Serena is currently ranked No. 16 in the world.
Williams explained later on why her opponent’s devastation was a positive sign for the player in the future, via USA TODAY Sports:
“As she was walking towards the net, I could tell she was quite upset,” Williams said. “I kind of liked that. It shows she wasn’t just there to play a good match, she was there to win. She wanted to win. That really broke my heart.
“I think she’s a good talent. It’s good to see that attitude.”
Serena offered more praise for Yastremska in her post-match interview on the court, saying it wasn’t obvious to her at all that her opponent was intimidated:
In the second week of the tournament, Williams and Halep will play Monday in Melbourne, but their match is Sunday at 7 p.m. ET.
Serena will play world No. 1 Simona Halep in the fourth round of the Australian Open.