Flushing Meadows, New York, Sep 5 (efe-epa).- Serena Williams came from behind here Saturday to defeat fellow American Sloan Stephens 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 and move on to the fourth round of the US Open, a tournament she has won six times.
Williams, 38, came into the contest on Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 5-1 career edge over the 27-year-old Stephens, who hoisted the US Open trophy in 2017.
Even so, the world No. 8’s low-energy start allowed Stephens to prevail in the first set with an impressive display.
But the last time the woman with 23 Grand Slam singles titles went out this early in the US Open was 22 years ago and Williams came roaring back to win the next two sets.
Williams, the tournament’s third seed, hit 12 aces to none for Stephens.
“In that first set, I don’t think she made any errors, she just was playing so clean,” Williams said afterward. “I just said, ‘I don’t want to lose in straight sets.’ I was like, ‘OK, Serena, just get a game, get a game.’ And the next thing I know, I won the second set and I was like, ‘OK great.'”
“It was intense, I have to say,” Serena said. “We always have some really incredible matches and it brings out the best in my fitness when I play Sloane. She’s obviously a great player, she’s won on this court, she’s had every big win you can think of.”
Though no fans were allowed due to Covid-19 restrictions, a number of players watched the match from the stands, along with Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian, and the couple’s 3-year-old daughter, Olympia.
“I forgot that she was coming out so I hope that she saw her momma fighting,” Williams said in her on-court interview. “I don’t think she was paying attention, between you and me.”
Next up for Williams in her pursuit of a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title will be 15th seed Maria Sakkari of Greece, who beat Amanda Anisimova 6-3, 6-1 earlier Saturday.
Sakkari and Williams have won once in their two previous meetings.
The 25-year-old Sakkari, who is ranked 22nd in the world, defeated Williams in three sets at last month’s Western & Southern Open, which was also played in Flushing Meadows to minimize travel for players taking part in both events. EFE gr/dr