Venus Williams turned 37 this year. She’s 16 years removed from the second of her U.S. Open titles in 2001. She’s nine years removed from her last Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2008. She’s six years past her diagnosis with Sjogren’s Syndrome.
But the numbers that matter most for her right now are 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2).
That’s the score by which she defeated Petra Kvitova Tuesday night in the U.S. Open quarterfinals, putting her in the semifinals for the first time since 2010.
It was a match so taut that even with the roof closed the cacophony of Ashe Stadium crowd was reduced to a hush—really, a hush—as the final games of the third set and the tiebreak wore with drama building on every serve, every groundstroke. The groans for her errors, the roars for her winners where everything that Venus Williams, and sister Serena, have brought to the Open since Venus first played in 1997. That number would be 20 years ago.
What a season this has been for a 37-year-old. She lost the Australian Open to sister Serena, who is home in Florida after delivering her first child, a girl, last week. She lost in the final at Wimbledon to Garbine Muguruza, a rising star who got eclipsed in the fourth round by Kvitova.
In the semifinals of the Open she will meet Sloane Stephens, once looked at as the successor to the Williams sisters. She’s 24.
After winning the first set and seeming to have Kvitova on the ropes, Williams gave up a break in the second game of the second set. She squandered two break points on Kvitova’s serve in the third game. With weather in the area, they closed the roof at 8:11.
Williams let a break point pass in the fifth game, and two more in the seventh game. Kvitova seemed to have the momentum as she served out the set, especially after getting a break in the third game of third set. But Venus got it back in the sixth game. The hush started to fall over the crowd when it took four deuces for Williams to hold serve in the ninth game. The hush turned into a standing ovation on her winning point.
Then Williams owned the tiebreak, winning six of the first seven points.
Outside matches postponed. Because of significant rain in the forecast on Wednesday, only matches scheduled for Ashe Stadium will be played. Three women’s doubles matches may be played in the Grandstand.