As she continues her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, Serena Williams headlines a group of four American women into the Round of 16 at the U.S. Open.
Along with Serena, No. 2 seed and reigning Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin remains, as do Shelby Rogers and Jennifer Brady. Both are seeking their first Grand Slam titles.
“Honestly, every tournament I enter is important for me, and particularly the Grand Slams, because quite frankly, I’m playing for Grand Slams, or to try to have a chance,” the 38-year-old Williams said after staging a comeback to beat fellow American Sloane Stephens on Saturday.
Eleven American women reached the third round, the most since 1989 and the most at any Grand Slam tournament since Wimbledon in 1994.
All four women who advanced to the fourth round earned $250,000, and would make $425,000 by reaching the quarterfinals. The tournament winner receives $3 million, and the runner-up $1.5 million.
While the prize money is nice, the American women are playing to win major titles.
Playing on the bottom half of the draw, No. 3 Serena next faces No. 15 Maria Sakkari of Greece, who beat Serena in three sets last month at the Western & Southern Open in New York.
“Serena is Serena,” Sakkari said. “You have to come up with some great tennis. Otherwise there is no chance against her.
“So the keys were to stay, to make the match as physical as I could. That’s most like the tactic with most of the players that I play.”
Serena is one of three mothers still in the draw — after nine began the tournament — and all are in the bottom half. Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria is in Serena’s quarter, while Serena could potentially face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the semifinals.
Serena’s daughter, Olympia, watched her victory over Stephens from the lap of her father, Alexis Ohanian.
“One day your daughter can say she was there, whether she remembers or not, we can always have pictures,” Williams said. “It’s hard. For me, it’s hard, because I spend a tremendous amount of time with her.”
Also on the bottom of the draw is Kenin, who defeated Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, a dynamic player with tremendous variety to her game. She next faces No. 16 Elise Mertens on Monday.
While she’s enjoying her run at the Open, Kenin misses staying in Manhattan and shopping. Most of the players are staying at the tournament hotel by Kennedy Airport.
“First of all, [I miss] the fans, that’s number one,” Kenin said. “Two, staying at the J.W. Marriott, having Central Park right in front of me, walking around 5th Avenue. Can’t get a Tiffany or Cartier. That’s frustrating because I love the city. That’s where I want to obviously live.
“Obviously I’m missing the city life.”
No. 28 Brady and the unseeded Rogers are both on the top half of the draw and both must face multiple Grand Slam champions next.
Brady faces three-time major champ and No. 16 Angelique Kerber on Sunday morning, while Rogers gets two-time Wimbledon champ and No. 6 Petra Kvitova Sunday afternoon.
“It’s really good to see all of us [Americans] doing so well here,” Brady said, “especially at our home slam.”