Women’s tennis has never been wackier than in Serena Williams’ third trimester.

If you thought Jelena Ostapenko’s Parisian fortnight was improbable – the Latvian was ranked No.47 when she took the Roland Garros title last month – consider how Magdalena Rybarikova, the world No.87 from Slovakia, is now just two matches from winning Wimbledon.

Only four months ago, Rybarikova was the wrong side of 450 in the standings, which was when she was in the early stages of her comeback from the knee and wrist operations she had last year. But, after defeating America’s CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-3 under the Centre Court roof – the match had started on the roofless No.1 Court and was switched because of the rain – she went through into the last four to play Spain’s GarbiƱe Muguruza on Thursday.

“I can’t believe that I’m in the semi-finals. I’m so happy, this is incredible,” said Rybarikova, the first Slovakian woman to reach the semi-finals of Wimbledon.

If Rybarikova were to beat Muguruza, then only Venus Williams of the United States or Britain’s Johanna Konta would be left to potentially block her path to the Venus Rosewater Dish. For the second Grand Slam in succession, the unimaginable might happen.

The Wimbledon crowds adore an outsider, with a player going from the margins to the mainstream, and they certainly have one in Rybarikova, who is the lowest ranked women’s semi-finalist since China’s Jheng Jie, then the world No.133, in the summer of 2008.

With Serena Williams absent, everyone had been saying that the ladies’ singles Championships would be open this year, but did anyone foresee Rybarikova going this deep? Even when she defeated Karolina Pliskova – the Czech No.3 seed and many people’s favourite for the title – in the second round last week, no one had been predicting this. To put that win over Pliskova into context, the Czech will become the new world No.1 on Monday.

Looking across the four Grand Slams, Rybarikova is the lowest ranked semi-finalist since Germany’s Angelique Kerber, then the world No.92, at the 2011 US Open.

Rybarikova’s advance into the semi-finals will doubtless also be popular in certain towns and cities around England. To prepare for The Championships, she went on a tour around the country, winning titles at ITF tournaments in Ilkley and Surbiton, and making the semi-finals of the tour-level event in Nottingham (where she lost to Konta).

It was a little after 4pm, and 2-2 in the second set, when the rain interrupted this quarter-final on No.1 Court.

When they resumed, three hours later, on Centre Court, Rybarikova was the one who adapted best to their new surroundings.

Source: Mark Hodgkinson| Wimbledon