It was light work on Tuesday (September 3) night under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open.
Serena Williams blitzed her quarterfinal opponent, Qiang Wang, 6-1, 6-0. The victory was Williams’ 100th at the U.S. Open, placing her one victory shy of the record (101), held by Chris Evert.
The match lasted 44 minutes.
Williams was on form from her opening service game. She never faced a breakpoint on serve, converted all of her breakpoint chances on Wang’s serve, and played a clean match: 25 winners versus only 10 unforced errors.
At this stage of her career, Williams is chasing history and records as well as battling Father Time.
The win on Tuesday night earned Williams a 13th semifinals berth at the U.S. Open in 19 tournament appearances. Her goal of securing a record-breaking (tie with Evert) seventh U.S. Open crown, and record-tying (Margaret Court) 24th grand slam title remain alive.
The second week of a grand slam tournament is where the pressure ratchets up and each point means a little more. Williams is no stranger to pressure, having said earlier this week, “pressure is a privilege,” quoting the great Billie Jean King.
But time waits for no one. Williams knows every match/tournament is an opportunity to further cement an already impeccable legacy, and while we should never doubt “the Greatest of All Time,” she won’t play forever.
Earlier this week, following her round of 16 match, she reflected on the longevity of her and Roger Federer’s careers, saying:
“I don't know. I feel like we obviously have a love for the sport. I feel like a lot of players do, too. I can't really answer for Roger. I can just say that -- I always said I would wake up one day and say, I'm done. That day hasn't come yet for me. I'm still playing pretty good tennis. I do look at Roger, like today, and the guy is incredible. His game is shockingly amazing. So there is no reason that he shouldn't be out there with his ability, and I feel the same way about mine.”
Williams’ semifinal opponent on Thursday will be Elina Svitolina, the fifth ranked player in the world, and 2019 Wimbledon semifinalist.
A spot in the U.S. Open Finals is on the line for both women. If Williams advances, it would be her 33rd grand slam finals appearance. For Svitolina, her first.
History is on the side of the legend, but the opportunity is there for both.
When discussing the possibility of playing Serena in the semifinals, Svitolina said:
“Definitely it's a big challenge to play against her...person who reach the semifinal is playing well. It's something that you have to bring your best game to beat them. But obviously Serena is amazing champion. Probably it's going to be really tough against her.”
Williams, who desperately wants to win this title, her first since becoming a mom, said:
“Well, she [Svitolina] is obviously a fighter. She gets a lot of balls back. She doesn't make a lot of mistakes. She's one of those players that does everything really well. So I have to do everything well, too.”
(Photo: TPN/Getty Images)