Serena Williams defeated Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-1 in Thursday’s (September 5th) semifinal match at the US Open.
The victory was Williams’ 101st match win at the tournament, tying the great Chris “Chrissie” Evert.
Williams will play in her 10th US Open Final on Saturday, and her 33rd Grand Slam final overall. She will be competing for a 7th US Open crown and 24th Grand Slam title, both records.
20 years since winning her first major title as a 17-year-old in NYC at the US Open, she’s still the most dominant player on tour.
On Thursday night, Svitolina the #5 ranked player in the world, again saw what makes Serena so tough to beat in the latter stages of a Grand Slam.
Following the match, Svitolina talked about how close the opening few games of the first set were to setting the tone, saying:
“Well, I think I didn't start so bad. It was quite good start for me, I would say. And first two games I had the chances to break and then to hold. Had the chances, but in the same time she played really, really focused and very precise on those two games. After she served in the third game unbelievable.”
In truth Svitolina was right. The first three games of the match were stressful for both players.
They both endured long service games, each putting tremendous pressure on the other to hold serve.
But on the biggest points, Serena was slightly better. She was able to hold and break Svitolina’s serve, and that propelled her through the match.
Svitolina continued, “But, again, that's why she is who she is. You are playing in front of the best tennis player in the world. If you don't take it, she just grabs it and there's no chance to take it back.”
That’s what it has felt like for 20 years on the women’s tour. Many players have had their chances. Some have taken them and defeated the great champion. But more often than not, she is the victor.
“On the important moments, she step up, always step up, always brings her best game,” Svitolina concluded.
That’s what champions do, and Serena is the ultimate champion in the sport. Her accomplishments and records are unparalleled. She is the greatest player of all time.
In Saturday’s final she will take on Canadian sensation Bianca Andreescu. The 19-year-old won in Indian Wells earlier this year and won the Rogers Cup in Toronto last month, defeating Serena.
The caveat here is Williams retired from the match due to back spasms. Andreescu was leading 3-1 in the first set at the time for what it’s worth.
Fans may also remember that match because it was the teenager who came over to console a crying Williams who had to retire.
Andreescu opened up about what she said to Serena in Toronto on Thursday after her semifinal victory, saying:
“It is never easy retiring for an athlete, especially in the finals of a tournament. So I just went up to her and I told her that she was a beast and she’s going to bounce back. And I mean she did. She's in the finals. So I'm really looking forward to facing her again."
Andreescu was not even born when Serena won her first major in 1999, but she remembers watching the legend win most of her titles and looks up to her. She continued:
“I've wanted to play her. I remember always telling my team I would have always wanted to play her right before she retires. I'm really looking forward to it. She's an amazing champion on and off the court. It's going to be fun...I remember watching her when I was about 10. I don't remember specifically a moment. I watched her win most of her Grand Slam titles. I think she's fighting for her 24th on Saturday. I'm sure she's going to bring her A game.”
So that’s where we are heading into Saturday’s final.
More history on the line for the game’s greatest player and champion, and a chance for a teenager to etch her name in history and possibly start her own legacy, just as her final’s opponent did 20 years ago.
Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images