For the second year in a row at the US Open, Serena Williams is into the women’s singles final, and once again she is a victory away from tying history.
Williams defeated No. 5 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine 6-3, 6-1 and will now get another chance at tying Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. This will be her second major final this year and fourth since having her daughter, who celebrated her second birthday during this tournament.
Williams also now has 101 US Open match wins, tying Chris Evert for the most ever in the Open era.
Svitolina was the highest seed remaining in the women’s draw. Williams is now the highest seed left at No. 8 and will face the winner of the second semifinal between No. 13 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland versus No. 15 Bianca Andreescu of Canada. The second semifinal started after Williams’ match.
Svitolina had beaten Williams just once before in five head-to-head meetings going into Thursday’s semifinal, but it was a big one. Williams entered the Olympic Games Rio 2016 as the top seed and defending champion, but No. 15 seed Svitolina beat her in the third round to abruptly halt her quest for a second consecutive gold medal in women’s singles.
The drama was high when the match started as Svitolina nearly broke Williams in the first game. At deuce for the third time, Williams again took the advantage before finally saving the game and taking a 1-0 lead. Having weathered that early difficulty, Williams pushed Svitolina to deuce six times in the second game before breaking her to take a 2-0 lead.
Svitolina wasn’t without her chances. She had seven break or game points in those first two games, yet it was Williams with the lead that grew in the third game as she held Svitolina without a point.
Svitolina got it back in the next game and went on to make it 5-3, but Williams served in the next game and with double set point Svitolina returned the ball into the net.
The second set went smoothly for Williams, who continued to play a clean game and quickly shot to a 4-1 lead. She had few unforced errors and what openings she did allow, Svitolina couldn’t take advantage.
Williams reached match point with the score 5-1 in the second set and Svitolina serving. Two balls into the net gave Svitolina the advantage, but Williams fought back with her 33rd winner to force deuce and after a long volley Svitolina hit into the net to give Williams match point No. 2. This time a perfectly placed return allowed Williams to finish things off.
On Saturday she will go for her seventh US Open singles title and first since 2014.
The U.S. women's doubles team of Caroline Dolehide and Vania King reached the semifinals in their event after defeating the No. 14 team of Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and Lyudmyla Kichenok of Ukraine 7-6(2), 6-4 on Wednesday. On Friday they’ll face the fourth-seeded team of Belgium's Elise Mertens and Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka.
In mixed doubles, American Bethanie Mattek-Sands and British teammate Jamie Murray are in the final for the second year in a row. They will meet Chan Hao-ching of Chinese Taipei and Michael Venus of New Zealand on Saturday.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.