The most anticipated match of the tournament – though it came in just the quarterfinals – was the 27th encounter between sisters Venus and Serena Williams. Serena, of course, is on the verge of history, vying to be the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win a calendar Grand Slam.
In a Tuesday-night encounter that was equal parts prize fight and pop-culture event – a host of celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey, were in attendance – the two sisters put on a riveting show. They blasted serves and pounded forehands at each other like they were nothing close to the best friends everyone knows them to be.
Though the 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 scoreline reflected the topsy-turvy character of the match, the tennis played was of extremely high quality. But it was Serena who posted higher numbers and elevated her game to take the deciding set. The younger Williams struck 35 winners and committed 22 unforced errors, while Venus made 24 and 15, respectively. Each player served beautifully, with Serena winning 77% of her first-serve points and Venus 71%.
Big sister Venus looked to be offensive early in points, and indeed, shorter rallies greatly favored her. Rallies of more than four balls were to Serena’s advantage.
In the end, some key statistics were as close as the Williamses’ sisterly bond: Serena’s fastest serve was 122 mph, while Venus’ was 121 mph. And Serena won 76 points over the course of 1 hour, 38 minutes. Venus? 75.
Serena’s assessment that playing against her sister was “like playing a mirror” turned out to be very astute.
She's now just two matches away from capturing the Grand Slam, as well as her fifth major and fourth US Open in a row.