Most of Venus Williams’ American rivals from the early 2000s have long since retired from tennis. The last time three or more American women reached the semifinals of the US Open, the group included Venus and Serena Williams and Lindsay Davenport.
Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles also advanced to the quarterfinals that year. That was back in 2002, when Serena beat her older sister Venus in the final after Venus had won the Open in 2000 and ’01.
Now here we are 15 years later and Davenport, Capriati and Seles are long gone from the game. Yet Venus, 37, is now one of four American women in the US Open semifinals.
She remains on track to win her first Grand Slam title since 2008. No. 9 Venus will face Sloane Stephens in one all-American semifinal on Thursday night, while No. 20 CoCo Vandeweghe will play No. 15 Madison Keys in the other. Vandeweghe knocked off world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, 7-6(3), 6-3, on Wednesday afternoon, and Keys, who is coached by Davenport, took care of Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-3, 6-3 to make it a perfect 4-for-4.
Whatever happens in Saturday’s final, an American woman will win the US Open. Venus is the only one of the quartet to have won a Slam.
“It’s been a great two weeks for American tennis,” Venus said after a thrilling three-set victory over No. 13 Petra Kvitova on Tuesday night, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(2). “Seeing all the American players in the draw and all of them advancing so deep and competing so well. “All I have known all my life was great American players. So it’s great to see this resurgence, and I hope it can continue.”
The last time four American women reached the semifinals of the same Grand Slam was at Wimbledon in 1985 when Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Zina Garrison and Kathy Rinaldi did so. Navratilova defeated Evert in the final.
The last time four Americans made the US Open semis was 1981.
“I’m just so happy to be here,” Keys said. “We’re going to have four American women playing [Thursday] and that’s pretty awesome….I think we all were rooting for each other today.”
As for Venus, she is enjoying a career resurgence at 37 despite being diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome several years ago, a disease that causes fatigue and muscle and joint pain.
Most recently, she was involved in a car accident in June that resulted in the death of an elderly man in Florida. The man’s family has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Williams.
Despite all that, she is playing some of the best tennis of her career in 2017, having reached the finals at the Australian Open, where she lost to Serena, and Wimbledon, where she fell to Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who will become world No. 1 on Monday following Pliskova’s loss.
“[In the] early 2000s, I had perfect health,” Williams said. “It was great. I loved it. I was fortunate to have that moment in my life. And now I’m still living my dream, and it’s amazing.”
With Serena absent from the tournament and having given birth to a baby girl last Friday, some speculate that Venus has been freed up from the pressure of playing the same event as her sister, free to do her own thing.
“I also think it would be wonderful if Venus wins a Slam the same week her sister Serena has a baby,” Evert said on ESPN. “Do you think that family would be happy? It’s a win-win all the way around.”