Serena victory gives U.S. 3 women
in Aussie Open semis
Ashley Marshall | January 25, 2017
The more things change, the more they stay the same. And for Serena Williams, she’s getting ready to party like it’s 1999.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion advanced to her eighth Australian Open semifinal on Day 10 in Melbourne with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over world No. 9 Johanna Konta.
The victory, which came exactly 14 years to day she completed her first of two 'Serena Slams' – holding all four majors at one time – keeps the 35-year-old on track for what would be an Open era-record 23rd major crown, nearly two decades after she won her first, at the 1999 US Open.
Following Tuesday's wins by sister Venus and CoCo Vandeweghe, it also gives the U.S. three women in the Australian Open's final four.
Wednesday's triumph wasn’t a vintage performance by any means. Rather, it was Serena playing within herself and finding a way to win when her biggest weapon – her serve – was surprisingly absent for most of the match. ADVERTISEMENT The final score line is flattering to the American, but in a game of big hitting and small margin for error, it was Williams who dealt the decisive blows while absorbing the baseline power from her opponent.
Williams’ timing on her return game was impeccable, and breaks of serve at 2-1 and 5-2 were all she needed to take the first set. Konta continued to go for her shots in the second set, but after falling behind 3-1, Williams broke twice more to rattle off five straight games to topple the Brit, who had not dropped a set in winning nine consecutive matches.
Williams’ longevity is the stuff of legend – a legend that continues to grow and build on the indelible mark it’s leaving on tennis history with every victory and milestone.
The American has now reached the semifinals at each of the past 10 majors, something she had never previously done in her sure-fire Hall of Fame career. And awaiting her in the final four in the ‘Happy Slam’ is another blast from the past, fellow former teen prodigy Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
The 34-year-old Croat is having a storybook-like run Down Under, rejuvenating a career that saw so much promise as a child later derailed by off-the-court personal issues.
Williams and Lucic-Baroni have met twice before, both in 1998, when Williams was 16 years old, and the American prevailed in both.
Should Williams advance to the final in Thursday’s semifinal, it would be the 29th time she will be contesting a Grand Slam singles championship match, and the eighth time doing so at the Australian Open.
It would also ensure an all-American final, with Venus and Vandeweghe set to battle in the other semi. That would be the 11th time the U.S. has been represented on both sides of the net during the women’s final in Melbourne Park. And if it does feature the Williams sisters, it would be the 15th time they’ve met in a major and the ninth time they’ve contested a final.
The four women’s semifinalists are 36, 35, 34 and 25 years old – Vandeweghe is the only one not in her 30s – continued proof that players are performing at a higher level at an older age than their predecessors.
Serena has a 106-11 record at Grand Slams since turning 30 years old, with nine major titles, including each of the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open at least once apiece.
By contrast, no other woman has won more than three after her 30th birthday, and Steffi Graf, whom Williams is looking to surpass on the all-time Open-era titles record in Australia this weekend, won her 22nd and final crown at the age of 29 at the 1999 French Open.
If Williams does prevail and win No. 23, she will rewrite many of her own records – the oldest player to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open era, the oldest player to sit atop the rankings, and, at 17 years, four months and 17 days, the longest span between Grand Slam titles. She would also be the first woman in the Open era to win major titles under four different U.S. Presidents: Clinton, Bush, Obama and Trump.
In 2017, the Happy Slam is fast becoming the Throwback Slam. As Williams said on-court after her win over Konta, “30 is the new 10.”