Serena Williams on BBC TV:
"She played really well and is really doing good. I don't know how I pull myself out of situations like that tie-break - I was just able to relax. The crowd was great and I was really happy they were rooting really hard for me."
Serena 7-6 6-4 Sharapova
Here we go. Ace to the Shara forehand - 15-0. Brutal the other side, unreturnable - 30-0. Brilliant return, somehow picked up off her toes by Serena - sensational. 40-0. Ooh, double fault. It's surely only delaying the inevitable - yup, backhand wide, and Serena has fought her way through. One hour 36 mins of toe-to-toe slugging.
Tracy Austin on BBC TV:
"Williams' first serve points - she has won 81% but she has such good variety and good depth and power on the serves. It is tough to read as her toss is in the same place all the time - it is very well disguised."
* Serena 7-6 5-4 Sharapova
Lovely backhand down the line from Maria, just tickling the tape on the way through - 15-15. Take that! Marmalising forehand return, 15-30. Super Shara scurrying, 30-30; crunching 111 mph serve down the middle for 40-30. Same again, set saved. For now.
Serena 7-6 5-3 Sharapova *
Hold to love from Serena. Troubling numbers for Maria, aren't they?
* Serena 7-6 4-3 Sharapova
Maria bends low to thump a forehand deep, backhand to follow, but that's gone long. Serena challenges a long call of her own correctly, but when a slight mis-hit dips just into the tramlines, Shara hangs on. How, however, to get the break back? Serena going 81% on first serve points...
Serena 7-6 4-2 Sharapova *
Oh I say, as the great D Maskell would have intoned - Serena thrashes a forehand straight at Maria, poised just 10 feet away across the net, and somehow the Russian flick-fends the missile off her heart and over the shocked Serena for a shock lob winner. Small comfort for the rest of the game, alas - punchy serving, meaty forehands, and the break is easily maintained.
* Serena 7-6 3-2 Sharapova
That's a poor forehand from Shara, and then another - 30-30, but Reenie spanks an over-aggressive forehand long. Acer down the middle! Warm applause from the crowd, keen on a proper ding-dong before the main course that is Muzzington vs Querrey.
Serena 7-6 3-1 Sharapova *
Lovely forehand drive from Serena, fizzing one into Maria's backhand corner. Still not a single cloud overhead, and it's all very Melbourne in January out there. Lazy footwork causes Williams to put a forehand halfway down the net for 40-30, but she'll seal it here - ball bouncing high as she races to the net, and she'll put this away for a... goodness gracious, calamitous clout into the net, and she beats her palm on the hallowed turf with fury. Big second serve for advantage, same again for the game. Maria needs to start seizing these straws.
* Serena 7-6 2-1 Sharapova
Oh dear - the first signs of gap starting to appear. Simple netter, double fault, forehand snatched into the net again - break thrown away, and she's quite rightly furious with herself.
Serena 7-6 1-1 Sharapova *
Shonky error from Serena for 30-30 - can Maria make her pay? Not if Serena keeps spanking aces she can't - there's number 14, followed by no.14 and a half - so unreturnable it could almost count as a bonus ace.
* Serena 7-6 0-1 Sharapova
Anguished scream from Shara as her backhand bites tape - anyone with a hangover in the Centre Court stands will now be close to tears. That's better serving, and the contest her is making a mockery of the Russian's seeding out at 16.
Serena 7-6 Sharapova
Shara winning 88% of the points on her first serve, Serena 81% - land them and you're in. Double-fault from Maria to slip a mini-break down at 2-1 (her fourth) - she has a smash to pull it back, but she's stuck it right down Serena's throat - oh, peachy pass for 3-1. Slow, deliberate wind-up on the serve - fault, second serve, cracking return, mini-break taken back at 3-2. "Woo-oww!" screams Shara with a vicious backhand cross-court winner - 3-3; big serve for 3-4. Now then - forehand down the line, 3-5. Long reply for 4-5, but Shara has two serves for the set. Gaghh - backhand into the net from Williams, and Shara has two set points... ach, forehand spanked into the net. 5-6. First serve from Reenie long, second deep - lovely backhand into the corner, and Maria stretches wide. 6-6. "Come on Serena!" shouts one chap in the crowd, "Come on Maria!" shouts a shrill female in response. Oh, great chance for a pass from Maria, Serena stranded at the net, but she sticks it wide. Set point Serena. Shara long off net-cord on first serve, and is this it? Great second serve, and the forehand clatters into the tape. Another into the net - 7-8. Big, big serve from Serena, and that reply sails long. Big serve again; 9-8. Second serve from Shara, but it's punchy - 9-9. Double fault from Shara! Serena now - ace!
Serena 6-6 Sharapova
Screeching first serve from Maria - hotter than July, and Serena counter-punches long. Is that on the line from Serena with the cross-courter? Nope, but it had to be close. Breaker o'clock, and this is the first the two have ever contested in their eight meetings.
Serena 6-5 Sharapova *
Fancy-pants of a different sort from Serena, flicking a return off a fault from behind her back straight to the ball-boy. Wonderful backhand return cross court from Maria, and now a brutal battle of forehands - flashing duel, the pace increasing with each ping off the racquet - wide from Maria. Another stunning backhand return brings up deuce, but the serve clicks into gear - that's not coming back, and that will but avec too much moutard - long. Tremendous battle now.
* Serena 5-5 Sharapova
Serena crouches, treating Sir Trevor McDonald and Sir Clifford of Richard in the Royal Box to an eyeful of red knick-knacks. She's still pushing this a little too hard here, crunching a meaty forehand long and snatching at another. "Come on!" screams Maria, and fist-clenches with slightly frightening intensity.
Serena 5-4 Sharapova *
At 15-30 Serena looks troubled, Maria shouting out for a Hawk-Eye challenge and being backed up by two millimetres. That's a sweet cross-court angle from Serena, followed by ace no.14. Champion. Tweaks at the changeover - Serena is switching shoes, taking the insoles out of one pair of shoes and wedging them into another. Probably unnecessary detail, but still. Shara to hold to save the set.
* Serena 4-4 Sharapova
Ah, shot de jour from the fierce-faced Shara, opening her body up for the forehand down the line before pulling a whipper cross court instead. First ace of her day for 40-15, and Serena then backhands just beyond the baseline off a feisty second serve. Hardly a bare-headed spectator out there, which makes perfect sense in these sizzling conditions. Civil servants at the Dept of Health, your messages are hitting home.
Serena 4-3 Sharapova *
She's always got that thrashing serve to fall back on, though - wide and flat, wide and flat again. Beautifully poised now, and the pair of Florida residents return to their chairs with applause pouring into their ears.
* Serena 3-3 Sharapova
Shara, hair pulled tight into plaited pigtail, narrows her eyes and stares across the net, her long gold earrings swaying. Better serving, and Serena's almost forcing this too much - five unforced errors already, and another sending a backhand long allows Shara to pull level. Intriguing.
Serena 3-2 Sharapova *
Murmurs of disquiet around the re-filling Centre as Serena's first double fault brings up 30-30. Hello - what was that? Reenie's at the tape, the ball waiting to be dispatched, and she sends it straight to no.1 Net Towers. Break point. First serve long. Second serve a touch feeblish - Shara's on it, the return is deep, and Serena can only push into the divider. She's lost a game in the first set of a match for the first time at this Wimbledon.
* Serena 3-1 Sharapova
Squeaks and squeals from Shara, and Serena is hitting her returns like howitzers - she's barely through her service return before the blurring ball is past her. Desperate backhand into the net for three break points - taken, with blistering power off the forehand. The overall record between these two: Serena leads 5-2, and she's come out top in the last four meetings.
Serena 2-1 Sharapova *
Crunching serving from Serena take her to 30-15. Mmm, super point - Shara flicks up a spot-on lob, Serena sprints back to overtake it and whip a forehand back, Shara dinks the dropper and Serena rumbles in like a runaway train to sway away the winner. Good opening.
Tracy Austin on BBC TV:
"The difference in this match will be the movement of the two players."
* Serena 1-1 Sharapova
Promising start, this - Shara, face hidden by white golf visor, rakes two long-limbed forehands back at Serena, has them returned with interest and then spanks another that's too hot to handle. My mum used to claim that a hot cup of tea on a summer's day was the ideal way to cool down. Having just taken two gulps of a scalding coffee and felt my ears begin to melt, I'm thinking of sending her a punchy text.
Serena 1-0 Sharapova *
Big start from Reenie, clumping down an ace out wide and following up with another down the middle. Watching these two punchers out there, thoughts turn back to that scorching Saturday six years ago when the 17-year-old Shara snatched the title from Serena's grasp. Six years! (pauses to shake head, grimace in mock horror)
Next on Centre Court it's Serena Williams v Maria Sharapova. The fans take a quick breather after watching Roger Federer see off Jurgen Melzer in under an hour and a half.