(Dave Saffran/Sportsday Wire)
On a night of firsts – hello Stephen Cobert – it was the old rivalry that inspired Flushing Meadows.
With the Williams sisters taking center stage in the Quarterfinals it was Venus blocking Serena in her quest for the Grand Slam.
With both the Donald and Oprah watching the three set match went according to plan with Serena winning 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.
“It’s really great to see her do so well,” Serena said of her sister. “She was at an unbelievable level today. Down to the match point it just was not easy. It’s probably the toughest match I have played in a really, really, really long time where I wasn’t actually beating myself. I was out there facing an incredibly tough opponent.
“Yeah, so it was just seeing and knowing that she has that level is so good and inspiring, as well, and hopefully it’s encouraging for her, too. I think against any other player she for sure would have won.”
But Serena didn’t play any other player. ESPN asked many of the players in the past few days the question of what it was like to play a sibling. Novak Djokovic said he couldn’t and Roger Federer was thankful that he didn’t have a brother.
The Williams Sisters, though, this was old hat and they graciously hugged after the matched ended.
“I think I will look back on it fondly,” Serena said. “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.”
This may be Serena’s toughest competition in the tournament. Venus obviously knew every move out there and was just over powered by her younger sibling.
However, she had enough sass to win the second set easily and was a lucky break or two away from taking this match.
Serena knew it.
“In just in the very first game I knew she was playing well,” she said. “But she played really well in her last match and she’s been playing really well all tournament. She’s been going through this tournament really sneaky and on the low, and that was, I think, also really good for her.”
It’s also good for American tennis. In an era where the men have been struggling and the new generation of women are just coming up, the Williams sisters have been the constant.
Serena has been the star, but Venus at 35 is the grizzled veteran who is the tournament sage, well respected and revered.
“Well, everyone in this room knows that Venus is probably one of the greatest people on the tour,” Serena said. “She’s really great. She’s super professional.”
Now Serena gets Roberta Vinci in the Semifinals on Thursday, which should be an easy opponent, but Serena is taking nothing for granted.
“I played her in Canada,” Serena said. “She played me really tough, and I didn’t really expect that. That’s how I sprained my finger actually, was playing against her. Thankfully my finger is a little better now. But, yeah, so I’m not going to underestimate her. She played really well. She’s not in the semifinals of a Grand Slam for no reason. She knows what to do and she knows what to play.”
And we all know who Venus is pushing for to win, since the Grand Slam will be a win for the Williams family.
“I think that would be a huge, not just for me, but for my family just for what it represents and how hard we have worked and where we come from,” Venus said. “So it would be a moment for our family.
“But at the same time, if it doesn’t happen it’s not going to make or break you. We don’t have anything to prove. She has nothing to prove.
“She’s really the best ever, so what are you going to do? Just try to make it. If you don’t, then that’s that and go to the next one.”
Spoken like an older sister.