For the first time in U.S. Open history, three black women have advanced to the quarterfinal round; and, in this case, they all happen to be American. As of Monday, Venus Williams, 37, Sloane Stephens, 24, and Madison Keys, 22, are all vying for the Tiffany-engraved trophy. Oh, and it’s all going down at a stadium named for African-American tennis legend, Arthur Ashe.
Williams and Stephens earned quarterfinal spots Sunday night, by defeating Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain and Julia Gorges of Germany respectively, while Keys snagged her place by defeating Elina Svitolina from the Ukraine Monday night. Keys, ranked No. 15 in the world, is the youngest of the bunch, and was visibly excited after her win, and spoke about the prospect of the Americans squaring off against one another.
“It’s just really exciting. I’m really happy that none of us are playing each other in the quarterfinals,” Keys said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “If there’s some all-American matchups in the rest of the tournament, I think that says really good things about women’s tennis.”
NEW YORK — For eight intense, entertaining games, Sloane Stephens stayed right with Serena Williams. For a 40-minute stretch in the fourth round of the US Open, the top two American women put on quite a show. Both hit serves topping 115 mph. Both whipped groundstrokes to the corners. Both covered a lot of ground, extending points with leg-churning defense. Both showed the occasional sign of nerves, reflecting what a big deal this was, in part because the 15th-seeded Stephens already was one of only three players to beat No. 1 Williams this season. Until, that is, the score was 4-all in the first set Sunday. That’s when Williams took over.
The 20-year-old Stephens’ time at the top of tennis may come. For now, the 31-year-old Williams is still as good as it gets. Taking eight of the last nine games, defending champion Williams returned to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows by beating Stephens 6-4, 6-1.
“When you give her that opportunity to take that step forward, she definitely makes her move,” Stephens said. “Unfortunately, today she made her move. I just couldn’t get back in.” Still, all in all, it was remarkably compelling and, within individual points, rather evenly played for what turned out to be such a runaway. “I definitely think it was a high-quality match,” said Williams, 64-4 with eight titles this year. “We both came out today to play.”