Williams hits back to beat Azarenka and reach last 16 in Paris
Williams, the champion at Roland Garros in 2002 and 2013, trailed for much of the match, but battled back from a 4-2 deficit in the second set to storm home and set up an all-American clash with Sloane Stephens.
The 19-times grand slam champion made a slow start, hitting a flurry of unforced errors as Azarenka took charge.
But she found her stride late in the second to take the upper hand against former world number one Azarenka. Williams fell 2-0 behind in the decider on Court Philippe Chatrier, but reeled off six games in a row, sealing victory with a rasping crosscourt forehand.
"Today was not easy because she played very well," Williams said on court in French. "I needed to play very well."
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