US Open 2015

Venus won't issue a free pass

Serena and Venus Williams
Serena and Venus WilliamsPHOTO: REUTERS

While she's aware of Serena's calendar Grand Slam bid, she also aims to beat her in q-final

NEW YORK • The Williams Family show has taken centre stage at the US Open, with Serena and Venus both cruising to straight-set wins on Sunday to set up a monster quarter-final between the siblings.

Whenever the Williams sisters clash on court, it is a major event.

But with older sister Venus, a twice US Open winner, standing in the way of defending champion Serena's quest for a rare calendar-year Grand Slam, their meeting today has been elevated to a must-see sports viewing.

With Serena bidding to become just the fourth woman to win all four Grand Slams in the same year, the US Open hype machine that already had been in top gear is now set to crank into overdrive.

The sisters have met 26 times over their careers with Serena winning 15 times to Venus' 11.

  • MEMORABLE CLASHES BETWEEN THE WILLIAMS SISTERS

  • 1998 Australian Open 2nd round

    The first meeting between the sisters. Both appeared sporting beads in their hair. Venus, 17, won 7-6 (7-4), 6-1. It was expected as she was ranked 16 in the world while 16-year-old Serena was at 53.

  • 2003 Australian Open final

    Serena clinched the last Grand Slam title to elude her with a 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 6-4 victory. It was only the sixth time a woman had held all four Grand Slams at the same time, and the first since Steffi Graf in 1994. Venus made unwanted history as the first woman to lose four straight Grand Slam finals.

  • 2008 Wimbledon final

    Venus clinched her fifth Wimbledon title with a 7-5, 6-4 win in one of the few really high-quality clashes between the pair. Venus defied blustery conditions to become one of only four players to lift the trophy five times or more in the modern era.

  • 2009 Dubai semi-final

    Venus beat Serena 6-1, 2-6, 7-6 (7-3) to take a 10-9 lead in their rivalry. It was Venus' fifth win in their last seven meetings but Serena earned plaudits for defying the pain of a knee injury that had forced her to retire from a tournament the previous week.

  • 2009 Wimbledon final

    Serena ended Venus' two-year reign as Wimbledon champion with a 7-6 (7-3), 6-2 victory that secured her a third All England Club crown.

    It was the fourth time the sisters had met in a Wimbledon final, with Serena, who now held the Wimbledon, Australian and US Open crowns, winning three of those showpiece showdowns. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

But meeting No. 27 will have more than the usual family bragging rights riding on the outcome.

"Obviously, getting to a Grand Slam semi-final is the next step towards the final. Pretty clear what's up for grabs here," said Venus.

"I think people love to see history being made.

"No one is out to be a spoiler but, at the same time, you're focused on winning your match even though the circumstances are really much different than you.

"You still have to prepare, still have to play well. Even though you're playing your sister, you have to be prepared and focus. The preparation doesn't change."

The 35-year-old, seeded 23rd, overpowered 19-year-old qualifier Estonian Anett Kontaveit 6-2, 6-1 in a ruthless fourth-round display that took just 50 minutes.

Serena followed her sister onto the Arthur Ashe Stadium court and was no less efficient.

She routed fellow American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-3 in 68 minutes.

"She's playing great," 33-year-old Serena said about seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus. "I have to really be ready for that.

"At least one of us, a Williams, will be in the semis."

Venus has played some astonishing tennis to reach the last eight of the tournament she won in 2000 and 2001 for the first time since having Sjogren's syndrome - a condition that affects the immune system - diagnosed four years ago.

While Venus, the oldest player remaining in the tournament, has maintained an impressive level throughout her first four matches, Serena produced by far her most impressive performance in overcoming Keys.

In complete contrast to her previous match against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, the world No. 1 started positively. She got stronger to beat Keys 6-3, 6-3 and set up her first meeting with her sister at Flushing Meadows since 2008.

"I am not feeling any pressure any more and I'm just so glad that Venus is playing great.

"She finished her match so quickly today, I barely had time to get ready for my match," Serena said. REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 08, 2015, with the headline 'Venus won't issue a free pass'. Print Edition | Subscribe