Despite how obviously great Serena and Venus Williams are, their Grand Slam match-ups haven’t always been thrilling tennis, with the sisters subduing their emotions and not always playing at their best. But with Serena on the march to a historic calendar year Grand Slam and Venus amidst a mini late-career renaissance, their US Open quarterfinal lived up to the hype.
The match began slowly, with each sister holding serve through the first four games. But Serena broke in the fifth game, with Venus putting game point into the net, and she steamrolled on to take the first set 6-2. But don’t think that Venus lost the set, as she played well enough to beat just about any tennis player not related to her.
The second set began as a mirror image of the first, but this time it was Venus who broke Serena first in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Serena double-faulted to lose the game, and looked a bit out of sorts all set, missing a couple of shots you would have normally expected her to make. Venus made quick work of the rest of the set to beat Serena 6-1 as the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd reacted confusingly, unsure whether to support Serena’s historic quest or Venus’s attempt to stand up to a juggernaut.
After losing five games in a row to close the second set Serena’s behavior demonstrably changed, as she got louder and more animated on the court. Whether that helped her play better or was a reaction to her better play, her serve was unfair and she played more aggressively in jumping out to a 3-0 lead. From there it was just a matter of time. Venus held each of her ensuing serves but wasn’t able to break her little sister, and Serena triumphed 6-3, fittingly ending the match on an ace.
Next up for Serena is the unseeded Roberta Vinci, who is playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal. Lingering on the other side of the bracket are four players, the most formidable of whom is world number two Simona Halep.
Photo via Julio Cortez/AP