in

Serena Williams Stages Comeback To Beat Sloane Stephens At U.S. Open, Remains Alive For Record-Tying 24th Major

Serena Williams was down but not out against Sloane Stephens before staging a comeback that kept her alive for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title.

The 38-year-old No. 3 seed overcame a sluggish first set to prevail 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 and advance to the fourth round on Monday. There she will face No. 15 Maria Sakkari of Greece, who beat Serena in three sets last month at the Western & Southern Open in New York. It was Serena’s 43rd comeback from a set down in a major.

“Honestly, [I’m most pleased] with just staying in it playing against an opponent that played so well and not letting that get me down,” Serena said in her on-court interview. “That was really impressive for me.”

Serena, who has lost in the last two U.S. Open finals, remains alive for a 24th major, which would tie Margaret Court’s all-time record. Serena avoided tying her earliest exit at the Open, which came when she was 16 and playing in the event for the first time in 1998. She is seeking her first major title since the 2017 Australian Open.

Though no fans are allowed at this year’s Open, Serena’s daughter Olympia, who turned 3 last week, was among those captivated by the match from their seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium. She sat in the lap of her father, Alexis Ohanian.

“I forgot that she was coming out so I hope that she saw her momma fighting,” Williams said in her on-court interview. “I don’t think she was paying attention, between you and me. She may have been playing with some princesses upstairs.”

A number of other tennis stars were glued to their suite seats in Ashe Stadium, including Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Sofia Kenin, Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev, who was shown eating sushi.

“It’s cool,” Serena said. “Both men and women, they come out and they have a chance to [watch] because we don’t get to do it because it’s usualy impossible because this is our arena and if anyone sees us tennis players, it’s impossible to watch a match in peace. So it’s kind of cool that us players can watch each other. It’s interesting, I like it.””

Stevens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion who is engaged to American soccer star Jozy Altidore, got up an early break in the first set. Shen then took a commanding 5-2 double-break lead when Serena sprayed a backhand wide. Stephens was moving Serena all over the court and was far more consistent from the backcourt. She closed out the first set easily on her serve.

Still, Serena began to serve much more effectively in the second set and earned a break for 4-2 when Stephens smacked a forehand wide. Serena held easily for a 5-2 advantage and then broke again to take the second set. She won 18 of the final 20 points in the set.

“In that first set, I don’t think she made any errors, she just was playing so clean,” Serena said. “I just said, “I don’t want to lose in straight sets.’ I was like, ‘Ok, Serena, just get a game, get a game. And the next thing I know, I won the second set and I was like, ‘OK great.’”

Normally a crowd would have been supporting Serena after the she lost the first set, but she had to summon that energy from within herself.

“I love a crowd so much, especially this crowd, but I’m so intense this is how I am in practice, incredibly intense, so I guess I’ve been working on it for years through my practices,” she said.

In the decisive set, Serena secured a break in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead. Down 0-30 on her serve in the next game, Serena turned up the intensity and hit a second-serve ace to set up game point. She held for 4-1.

Serena closed it out by breaking Stephens when Stephens sailed a forehand long on match point.

Serena improved to 6-1 all-time against Stephens, who entered the Open with a 1-7 record in 2020.

“It was intense, I have to say,” Serena said. “We always have some really incredible matches and it brings out the best in my fitness when I play Sloane. She’s obviously a great player, she’s won on this court, she’s had every big win you can think of.”

Williams and Stephens were among 11 American women into the third round at the Open, the most since 1989 and the most at a major since Wimbledon in 1994.

Williams was also one of three mothers who advanced to the fourth round, as Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria both advanced in straight sets.

“I want to win even more because I have this amazing kid at home and I want to be able to tell her that, ‘Oh after mommy had you, she won this, this, this, this and this and this and this and this,’” Serena said earlier on ESPN. “I want to build an even stronger legacy now, and that’s why I’m back. I wouldn’t be back for any other reason.”

Source link

Brisbane mother Jasmine Campbell cleverly repurposes coffee tables from old car tyres

Celtics’ Walker calls his 9 FGAs ‘unacceptable’