Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Venus Williams, Sloane Stephens win to set up all-American semifinal at US Open
Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens have done their part to set up one all-American semifinal at the US Open.
Both players won their quarterfinals on Tuesday and will face off in one semifinal on Thursday night.
Fellow Americans CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys will play their quarterfinals on Wednesday, opening up the possibility of the Americans closing out the semifinals.
“I think we have to give some credit to Serena, but there was a time in tennis where all of my rivals were all American, [Jennifer] Capriati and [Lindsay] Davenport and Monica Seles so I love these young Americans coming up and playing big and focused,” No. 9-seeded Venus said after her 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 victory over No. 13 Petra Kvitova. “And I would love all that again, like the top four, top five in the world in the semifinals, that would be huge. I would love that.”
The last time there were four American women in the quarterfinals of a major was the 2002 US Open when Serena Williams, Venus, Capriati, Davenport and Seles all made it. Three of them advanced to the semis, and Serena beat Venus in the final.
While Serena is out of this US Open because she gave birth to a baby girl last Friday, Venus continues her career resurgence at 37.
Having reached the finals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, she’s now on track to reach her third major final of 2017 and potentially to win her first Grand Slam title since 2008. Venus will also return to the top five among the world rankings.
“I have to say I felt every single one of of you guys behind me, all 23,000,” she told the crowd after winning an intense back-and-forth battle between two power-hitting players.
“I meant that feels good. It feels amazing and I didn’t want to let you guys down. Thank you so much for the support.”
Venus had lost four of her previous five matches against Kvitova, the two-time Wimbledon champion who has made a remarkable comeback from a home invasion in which she was stabbed in her left (playing) hand last December, an incident that required a 3-hour, 45-minute surgery in her native Czech Republic that same night.
“Everything that she’s gone through, to go through that is unbelievable,” Williams said. “You don’t imagine that you’re going to wake up one day and that’s going to happen, so it’s so wonderful to see her back and playing amazing. I was so excited to see her playing well. I was excited to be able to play her. I am so fortunate to have won that match. It came down to the wire.”
Earlier, Stephens also won in a third-set tiebreak, prevailing over Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4). Sevastova had knocked out Maria Sharapova in the fourth round. The win means Stephens advanced to her first Slam semifinal since the 2013 Australian Open.
“[In my] comeback, I could have never dreamed of something like this happening,” she said, referring to the foot surgery she had early this year. “Making the semifinals of my home slam, it’s indescribable.”
On Wednesday, No. 20 Vandeweghe will face No. 1 Karolina Pliskova at noon, while No. 15 Keys will play Kaia Kanepi in the night session.
If both Americans win, it would set up a pair of all-American semifinals on Thursday night.
“Man, I’m hoping we can make it four [Americans in the semis],” Stephens said. “How awesome would that be, seriously?”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.