Serena Williams makes history, advances to U.S. Open quarters

NEW YORK- Monday afternoon at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams became the winningest player in Grand Slam history, notching her 308th career match win in a major main draw.

After equaling the achievements of Martina Navratilova (306) and Roger Federer (307) earlier in the tournament, Williams used a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Yaroslava Shvedova to secure No. 308 and book herself a spot in the quarterfinals.

It’s there that the No. 1 player in the world and six-time Open champion will face a stern test in No. 5 seed Simona Halep, the 2014 French Open runner up.

"I just feel like I'm going out there doing what I need to do," Serena told reporters. "I'm not overplaying, I'm not underplaying. I'm just trying to play my way into this tournament."

Earlier in the afternoon, sister Venus Williams was ousted from the tournament in a dramatic three-set loss to Karolina Pliskova, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), meaning the Williams sisters will not meet in the semifinals later this week.

Serena, however, would like to get to 311 Slam wins this U.S. Open: That would mean she would win the tournament, earning her a record 23rd major (and break her tie with Steffi Graf at 22) as well as maintain her No. 1 ranking, which is in jeopardy over the next few days.

“This is where it all started, so it’s always magical for me,” Williams said on court. “But 308 sounds pretty good.”

Williams is still yet to drop serve in this tournament and has lost just 20 games in four matches played. She’s only faced one break point in those four matches, and Monday served 11 aces en route to victory.

“I’ve never served this consistently,” she said on court. “I’m not going to ask questions. I’m going to just keep serving.”

Williams has a 7-1 head-to-head lead on Halep, who won the summer event in Montreal last month. They were set to meet in last year’s U.S. Open final before both getting upset in respective semifinals.

Williams hit an astounding 28 winners in Monday’s 68-minute match. She appeared calm and focused out of the gates, the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd still buzzing from Venus’ three-set defeat at the hands of Pliskova.

Shvedova, a Grand Slam champion in doubles, looked steady in the opening games of the second set after losing the first, but whiffed a ball at 2-3 30-15 and then never recovered. She wouldn’t win another game.

Serena won 28 of 30 first serve points, or 93 percent. She closed out the match on a service winner.

Williams and Halep will meet on Wednesday, while Pliskova, in her first major quarterfinal, awaits either No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska or Ana Konjuh, a 19-year-old up and comer.

"I just think with everyone I play, they play a step up and above their ranking," she said. "I think that's the beauty, one of the reasons I'm able to hang. Everyone I'm playing is playing like they're No. 1. To me it doesn't really matter who I play because I have to expect they're going to play the match of their life. That's how I go into these matches now."

Williams is also looking to break her tie with Chris Evert for six U.S. Open titles won. Should Serena be unable to make the final, however, No. 2 seed Angelique Kerber, the Australian Open champion, will take over the No. 1 ranking. Radwanska also has a shot at No. 1, as well, though the Pole must win the title outright.

Williams is almost the complete opposite in demeanor on court in Flushing Meadows versus 2015, when she came in trying to complete the calendar Grand Slam, having won the Australian and French Opens as well as Wimbledon. Graf was the last player to have done so, back in 1988.

She would be stunned in the semifinals by Roberta Vinci, however, and not play for the rest of the year. After losses in the Australian and French Open finals this year, Williams won her long-awaited 22nd Grand Slam trophy in Wimbledon before losing in the third round of the Olympics last month.

She pulled out of a big event in Cincinnati three weeks ago with a bad shoulder, but has said the injury has felt better and better throughout this U.S. Open campaign.

Williams, 34, moves to 88-10 at the U.S. Open.

USA TODAY


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