For one hour and 12 minutes, two competitors faced each other on the court for the 27th time with a chance to advance to the semifinals of the 2015 US Open. Serena Williams earned her 16th win in 27 matches against her older sister Venus last night at Arthur Ashe Stadium, but it certainly wasn’t easy.
Serena was in command during the first set, overwhelming Venus with her power game that she has used to overwhelm other women on tour for parts of three decades. Venus would not go down easily, and dominated the second set, winning 6-1, as her serve into the body of Serena produced numerous unforced errors.
In the third and final set, Serena won the first three games, and despite the efforts of Venus to break her sister, the younger Williams sister won the third set 6-3 to advance to the semifinal and keep her chance at a Grand Slam (winning all four majors in a calendar year), her record-breaking seventh U.S. Open singles championship, and her 22nd Grand Slam overall, alive.
Serena looked emotionally drained after the match, but it was the most beautiful moment as the two sisters embraced and spoke at the net. What did they say? “I just said I’m so happy for you. I don’t remember what else I said after that. Just moments. Just the moment,” Venus said after the match.
Serena shared her thoughts on the post-match embrace. “I think I will look back on it fondly. It means a lot to me. 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.”
Venus said that this match against Serena may be the most special of their career. “It was more unique, definitely … obviously because Serena is going for the Grand Slam and I think everybody is interested because she has to play her sister to get to that.”
So as Serena moves on, she will play Roberta Vinci, a player she has faced four times previously without a loss. She may win it all and make history, or unforced errors may yet again be her downfall. But it is hard to imagine her in a match that will be as grueling physically, mentally and emotionally, as playing her big sister, Venus.