For the first time since 1981, the U.S. Open women’s semi-finals will be an all-American affair with seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams and three first-Slam-title hopefuls in the mix.
Williams, seeking her third U.S. Open crown after 2000 and 2001, will face Sloane Stephens while 20th seed CoCo Vandeweghe and 15th seed Madison Keys collide in Thursday’s matches at Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the winners meeting Saturday for the championship.
“It’s pretty awesome,” said Keys after completing the foursome with a 6-3, 6-3 victory Wednesday over Estonian qualifier Kaia Kanepi.
“I thought it would be a really special moment. I’m happy I helped out and got my name in there.”
No matter who advances, it will set up the first all-American US Open final since 2002, when Williams lost to younger sister Serena.
“It has been a great two weeks for American tennis, seeing all the American players in the draw and all of them advancing so deep and competing so well,” Williams said.
“It’s great to see this resurgence and I hope it can continue.”
US ninth seed Williams, enjoying one of her finest seasons at age 37, is leading the charge. This year’s Australian Open and Wimbledon runner-up is the US Open’s oldest semi-finalist and the oldest in any Slam since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994.
“It’s such a wonderful feeling because you put in so much work to be able to succeed at these moments,” said Williams, on the verge of making three Slam finals in a year for the first time since 2002.
Williams and Stephens in a showdown of African-American stars at Arthur Ashe Stadium show the namesake barrier-breaker’s dream of tennis racial diversity is alive in the 20th anniversary season of the world’s largest tennis venue