Williams and her sister Venus added another chapter to what the world No.1 claims to be greatest story in tennis when she outslugged her older sibling 6-2 1-6 6-3 in the early hours of Wednesday morning to reach the semi-finals of the US Open.
There are few that would disagree with Serena that the Williams sisters’ rise from the hard scrabble streets of Compton to the top of the tennis world is both fascinating and inspiring.
But it is a story still being written and what is unfolding at Flushing Meadows this fortnight could well provide a chapter all its own with plot centring around what was an enthralling 27th meeting between the siblings.
“I think it’s the greatest story in tennis because we really — with how we started and how we grew up and how we were able to win championships and be such inspirations for so many women across the globe,” said Serena.
Certainly Serena seemed inspired as she and Venus played with the fire and passion that had been missing from many of their other 26 head-to-head meetings. But never before had so much been riding on the result.
“There’s nothing that I did different,” shrugged Serena. “I just was out there to play a really tough opponent today. Obviously we are very, very tough competitors on the court, but once the match is over and the second it’s done, you know, we’re sisters, we’re roommates, and we’re all that. Down to the match point it just was not easy. It’s probably the toughest match I have played in a really, really, really long time where I wasn’t actually beating myself.”
Serena will be a particularly heavy favorite in the next round against Vinci, an unseeded Italian veteran better known for her doubles prowess who will be playing in her first Grand Slam singles semi-final.
Serena has not lost a set to Vinci in any of their previous four matches, beating her, 6-4, 6-3, in the quarter-finals in Toronto last month.
Meanwhile Italian veteran Flavia Pennetta reached the US Open semi-finals for the second time in three years last night, outsmarting fifth seed Petra Kvitova 4-6 6-4 6-2 to add to the Czech’s Flushing Meadows frustration.
The Italian flag will feature prominently in the semi-finals with the 33-year-old Pennetta joined in the last four by 32-year-old compatriot Roberta Vinci, who booked her spot on Tuesday with a victory over Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.
“I was just trying to fight every ball, running and trying to push the most I can,” the Italian saidlast night.
“The second set I was really in trouble, but I was just keep going, playing and playing. It’s unbelievable.”
Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic was tested by net-charging Spaniard Feliciano Lopez in a duel of volleys and passing shots before booking a berth in the semi-finals winning 6-1 3-6 6-3 7-6(2).