It felt like a full-circle match and moment at the United States Open. As the large crowd milled outside Arthur Ashe Stadium full of anticipation on a steamy Tuesday night, it was hard not to flash back to the beginnings for Venus and Serena Williams.
To Compton, Calif., and the early phases of their father Richard’s unlikely business plan to make them champions. To braces and hair beads and walking off court hand-in-hand after their first match against each other as professionals at the 1998 Australian Open.
To Venus sitting, with her hood up and her emotions mixed, in the stands of this vast stadium in 1999 as her little sister became the first Williams to win a major singles title.
Serena Williams, her back to the camera, with her sister Venus after Serena’s victory. “She’s the toughest player I’ve ever played in my life,” Serena said. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times.
In a family sport, the Williamses have provided a sibling rivalry like no other, and it seemed altogether fitting that they met again this September with so much tennis history on the line.
But there was no tweaking the narrative arc of their remarkable careers on Tuesday. Though Venus the elder swung for the lines and even won the second set in a hurry, Serena the younger prevailed — as she has so often in recent years — to win this quarterfinal match, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3, and bring the prospect of a Grand Slam ever closer to reality.
Serena, 33, is now just two victories from joining Maureen Connolly, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf as the only women to win all four major singles titles in a season.
A favorite in all her duels at this stage, Serena will be a particularly heavy favorite in the next round against Roberta Vinci, an unseeded Italian veteran better known for her doubles prowess who will be playing in her first Grand Slam singles semifinal.
Serena has not lost a set to Vinci in any of their previous four matches, beating her, 6-4, 6-3, in the quarterfinals in Toronto last month.
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Featured Image Credit: Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
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