Serena Williams came from a set down to defeat fellow mother Tsvetana Pironkova and reach the semi-finals of the United States Open on Wednesday. The American third seed overcame the unseeded Bulgarian 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 in 2hr 12min within Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams will play either former world number one Victoria Azarenka or 16th seed Belgian Elise Mertens on Thursday for a place in Saturday’s last. The 38-year-old Williams is chasing a 24th singles Grand Slam title that would equal Margaret Court’s record.
But a sluggish start to the match nearly saw her hopes dashed as a more energetic Pironkova broke Williams in game five to take an early lead.
“I’m happy to be standing here talking to you because at one point I think I used to be pretty near to not being here,” Williams told an on-court interviewer.
“I retain fighting and that is the reason one object that I’m super excited approximately. I never surrender and you realize I just gotta retain going,” she added.
Williams blamed her early struggles on tiredness.
“I used to be feeling a little in my legs and for whatever reason an hour in I am getting more energy so I guess that’s a good object,” said Williams.
“At first I used to be a little fatigued for whatever reason so obviously I will’t do that whether I wish to retain winning.
“So I am going to check out to figure that out,” she added.
It has been more than three years since Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open — when she used to be already pregnant with daughter Olympia.
Williams has come near since, reaching four major finals only to come absent empty handed.
Pironkova, herself a mother, only returned to tennis this year following a three-year absence from the circuit.
“Whenever you’ll birth a baby honestly you’ll do anything and I think we saw that with Tsvetana today. She played incredible,” said Williams.
Pironkova’s final tournament appearance before this year’s US Open had been the 2017 Wimbledon championships when she exited in the second one round.
She gave birth to her son all through her break from tennis but elected to go back in 2020, only to see her comeback plans disrupted by the coronavirus shutdown.
Williams said she used to be in awe of Pironkova’s run to the final eight.
“I couldn’t even do that. I could barely win a match when I came back so she’s fantastic.
“It’s like you play a match and you go home and you’re still changing diapers. It’s like a double life, it’s actually surreal,” she added.
Williams smashed 20 aces, taking her tally for the tournament to 64 so far.
The record for the most number of aces in a US Open in the women’s singles is 70, set by Serena in 1999 when she won for first time.
Topics mentioned in this article