The evergreen Williams is just two matches from a grand slam title that would see her draw level with Margaret Court as the sport's all-time leader.

By Daniel Herborn

Posted on September 5, 2018

While mens’ second seed Roger Federer suffered a shock loss to little-known Australian John Millman and defending womens champion Sloane Stephens was upset by Anastasija Sevastova, Serena Williams continues to outmuscle and outlast opponents, ensuring the tournament’s closing days retain some serious star power.

After defeating Karolina Pliskova, Williams will now meet 19th-seeded Sevastova in the semifinals. If she wins that, she will enter the final with a chance to draw level with Margaret Court on 24 grand slam victories, the most of any woman in the sport’s history. Victory in the final would also make her the all-time leader for most US Open championships with seven.

Williams back in top form after rejoining the tour

“I’d been a couple steps away at the last Grand Slam (Wimbledon), so I’m definitely not ahead of myself,” Wiliams told reporters. “I still know that no matter whether I’m in the semifinals or the finals, I have a really long way to go.”

Before defeating Pliskova, who beat her in the 2016 US Open semifinal, Williams had eliminated Estonian Kaia Kanepi, German Carina Witthoeft, Poland’s Magda Linette and her older sister Venus. The match against Kanepi, who had ousted world number Simona Halep, was a tough three-setter but otherwise Williams has looked untroubled.

The other players still alive in the women’s draw are Carla Suarez-Navarro and Madison Keys, who meet in one quarterfinal on 6 September. The other quarterfinal features Naomi Osaka and unseeded Leisa Tsurenko. With all the other top ten seeds now out of the tournament and Williams in ominous form, she is the heavy favourite to defeat whoever makes it through.

Williams has already secured her place among the game’s all time elite

Along with her six US Opens, Williams has won seven Australian opens, seven Wimbledons and three French Opens but entered the current US Open only seeded 17th after taking time off to have a child. She has been a peerless performer in big matches; the victory over Pliskova was her fourteenth consecutive win in quarterfinal matches at grand slams.

Williams’ feats are all the more impressive when it is considered that only 11 of Court’s titles were won in the sport’s open era when professional athletes were able to compete in grand slam events. The competition in the open era is considered much stronger as all the sport’s elite compete in the grand slams, which was not the case during when they were only open to amateurs.

Roger Federer has previously said that Williams may be the greatest tennis player ever. The task of beating the 36-year-old remains a daunting one, a fact not lost on the vanquished Pliskova.

“Doesn’t matter that she’s (seeded number 17) now — I think she’s still the strongest,” Pliskova told reporters after losing to Williams. “She’s not going to give you anything. She’s just going to ace you or play the best points on your chances. That’s just how it is.”

Earlier in the tournament, Williams made headlines when French Open officials warned they would not allow her to wear her Black Panther-inspired catsuit at the tournament next year. She pointedly wore a black tutu for her next match as she romped to a 6-4,6-0 victory over Linette.

Williams is one of the faces of Nike’s latest advertising push and tweeted that she was “Especially proud to be a part of the Nike family today,” after the former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who is known for kneeling during the American anthem to protest racial injustice, revealed he is part of its newest campaign.