Mirjana Lucic-Baroni was half her current age the last time she reached her current heights.
The 34-year-old Croatian continued her stunning run at the Australian Open, advancing to the semifinals with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win over fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic on Wednesday in Melbourne, Australia.
"I can't believe this, this is crazy," said Lucic-Baroni, who is ranked 79th in the world. "The only thing I can say is God is good. I can't believe I'm in the semifinals again. I feel a little bit in shock right now.
"I know this means a lot to every player, but to me this is overwhelming, this has truly made my life and everything bad that has happened OK."
Next up for Lucic-Baroni is a match against second-seeded American Serena Williams, who bounced ninth-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain 6-2, 6-3. Williams, 35, is a six-time champion in Melbourne, and is looking for her 23rd Grand Slam title, which would set an Open-era record.
Lucic-Baroni burst onto the tennis scene as a teen prodigy in the late 1990s. She won her debut pro event, the 1997 Croatian Bol Ladies Open, as a 15-year-old, and successfully defended the title the following year.
She captured the Australian Open women's doubles championship at 15 with partner Martina Hingis, and reached the 1999 Wimbledon semifinals in singles.
Her results dipped, and her career was derailed by personal and financial difficulties. Lucic-Baroni later admitted she endured years of physical and mental abuse from her father.
In the mid-2000s, she all but left the WTA Tour. She subsequently made middling attempts to come back, reaching the fourth round only once in her past 33 Grand Slam tournaments prior to this month.
The long road explained why she shed tears after beating Pliskova.
"I will never, ever, ever forget this day," Lucic-Baroni said.
Williams' quarterfinal win was just another of many for the American, who continued to struggle with her serve. She put only 45 percent of her first serves in play for the second match in a row and was vulnerable on second serves, winning only 50 percent of those points.
She muttered to herself on the court about her serve during the match.
"My main focus is my serve," Williams said. "I admit I complain a lot on court, that's my thing."
Williams praised Konta, whose only Grand Slam semifinal appearance came a year ago in Melbourne.
"She's been playing so well, won Sydney and cleaning up her matches," Williams said. "She's definitely a future champion here, for sure."
Regarding the matchup with Lucic-Baroni, Williams said, "Mirjana has been playing so well. I played her nearly two decades ago. To see her in the semifinals is inspiring for me."
The women's semifinals are scheduled for Thursday. In a battle of Americans, unseeded American CoCo Vandeweghe opposes 13th-seeded Venus Williams before Lucic-Baroni and Williams meet.