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U.S. Open: Serena, Venus Williams cruise with straight-sets wins

Serena Williams returns to Vania King during the

Serena Williams returns to Vania King during the second round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016. Photo Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

It’s still too far out to say that Serena and Venus Williams are on another collision course at the U.S. Open.

But they walked away with efficient victories Thursday, with Venus winning the final day match and Serena winning the opening night match, both under the closed roof of Ashe Stadium.

The 36-year-old Venus dispatched Julia Georges, 6-2, 6-3, and the 34-year-old Serena won handily over Vania King, 6-3, 6-3.

Serena is the No. 1 seed and Venus is No. 6, the first time she’s been seeded in the top 10 since 2010. Serena is at the top of her half of the draw and Venus is at the bottom of it, so if they were to meet for a sixth time in U.S. Open competition, it would be in the semifinals.

But that possibility still is four matches away, so first there are opponents, fitness issues and personal levels of play to deal with.

Venus was pretty happy with her own play against an unpredictable though potentially dangerous opponent.

“Definitely today was a lot more measured than my first round,” she said. “I just felt like I had to dial it back a little bit, maybe play a little bit more percentage tennis, play within myself, keep my errors down. Very happy that it worked out against an opponent who is seasoned, who can play, who can serve, who has a lot of big shots. So it was a nice test to come through.”

Serena continually showed frustration at missed shots in her match against King. Typically measured in her responses, she said, “Hopefully I’ll be able to play better as the tournament goes on” and that her problematic right shoulder “is so far, so good.”

Venus continually is questioned about her ability to be competitive at such an advanced age while coping with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease. Her answers always come down to a deep desire to do what she loves.

“As an athlete, as a tennis player, that’s what you want. You want to be out there and play the game you want to play,” she said. “If you get to the point where you can’t do that, that’s where you need to start to think, OK, I need to move on. I’m not at that point yet, and hopefully I’ll be able to play the game I want to play right until the last day that I’m done.”

One of her toughest issues is self-inflicted. She has stopped eating sugar products. “I feel it’s helping or else I would start eating it again,” she said. “Eating sugar is really fun. As long as it’s working, I’ll be off of it. It was just something that I wanted to try. Like I always said, I’m always trying something different to find a peak performance, something I started recently.”

There are many things she tries to do to prolong an admirable career. “People are probably intrigued that myself and a number of other players are playing quality tennis at this age,” Venus said. “It’s something that never happened before. Inquiring minds want to know, I guess. I guess 36 is the new 26.”

And here she and her sister are in the top six in the world battling for another Open title. Venus has won two and Serena six, tied with Chris Evert for the most in the Open Era.

Serena has 306 Grand Slam victories, tying her with Martina Navratilova for the top spot.

“It’s really amazing myself and my sister are in the top six,” Serena said. “It’s really cool. We are just doing the best that we can.”

New York Sports