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U.S. Open: Venus Williams glides into 4th round after Serena has baby

Venus Williams reacts after defeating Maria Sakkari in

Venus Williams reacts after defeating Maria Sakkari in their women's singles match on Friday, Sept. 1, 2017 at The BIllie Jean King National Tennis Center. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Game, set, match, aunt.

Venus Williams won her third-round match at the U.S. Open on Friday, the day her sister Serena gave birth to a girl, reported at 6 pounds, 13 ounces, at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Florida. Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, is Serena’s fiance and the father of her child.

After defeating Venus in the final of the Australian Open for her 23rd major singles title, Serena announced the pregnancy and the decision to take off the rest of the season. She has also made it known she intends to return to tennis, likely at the Australian Open in the middle of this coming January.

In an extremely brief prematch interview with ESPN’s Pam Shriver, who asked her about the birth of Serena’s child, Venus Williams expressed her joy. But at her postmatch news conference, she wouldn’t address becoming an aunt again (she has other sisters who have children). And Shriver didn’t ask a question about it during the on-court interview after the match. Williams said she spoke with Serena before the match.

“I’m definitely available to answer questions about tennis,” she said. “That’s all right now.”

It wasn’t particularly pretty tennis in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Maria Sakkari that sent Aunt Venus through to the fourth round for the ninth time in her last 10 majors. She reached at least the fourth round in every Slam event this year, the first time she’s done so since 2010.

“My best tennis this year has come at the majors,” she said. “I don’t play nearly as much as some of my contemporaries, but this year when I have played, it’s definitely been quality tennis. That’s exactly what I want, and obviously to play my best tennis at the Big 4.”

In the second game of the second set, Williams made four straight double faults to be broken — never got a ball over the net. And she committed a number of frustrating foot faults. But Sakkari committed enough unforced errors that allowed Williams to move comfortably on.

Williams will face Carla Suarez Navarro in her next match. Suarez Navarro has been a tough customer for Williams, who is 4-3 in career matches against her.

Should she beat Suarez Navarro, it would set up a big-time clash with the winner of the Petra Kvitova-Garbine Muguruza fourth-rounder. Muguruza defeated Williams in the Wimbledon final.

Kvitova defeated Caroline Garcia, 6-0, 6-4, Friday as she continues to work her way back into the game after a horrific robbery at her home in the Czech Republic in December, when she was slashed with a knife across the four fingers of her left hand, her serving hand. It took nearly four hours of surgery to repair the damage. She returned in June at Wimbledon, where she is a two-time champion.

“It’s much more easier to come back and play, definitely, compared to first tournaments after my comeback,” Kvitova said Friday. “It’s much more easier for me to feel more normal than before.”

Muguruza dismissed Magdalena Rybarikova, 6-1, 6-1. When informed of Serena’s new child, Muguruza responded with a smile and a quip: “Well, I hope she doesn’t play tennis. I’m very happy for her. I mean, such a good moment, I’m sure. Well, there it is, in her arms, I’m sure, also.”

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