Former world number one, Serena Williams will be looking to clinch her 24th Grand slam and equal Margaret Court’s record when she faces Elina Svitolina in Thursday’s US Open semi-final.
A run to the last four in New York, bookended by crushing routs of long-time foe Maria Sharapova and China’s Wang Qiang, brought up a century of US Open wins for Williams, chasing her first Slam crown since the 2017 Australian Open.
Williams holds a 4-1 career advantage over Svitolina, but the Ukrainian triumphed in their most recent encounter — a third-round clash at the Olympics in Rio.
“That was a tough Olympics for me. Oh, man. Lost in doubles for the first time. Just really devastated about that doubles loss. Then obviously singles shortly after,” Williams recalled after her 6-1, 6-0 quarter-final demolition of Wang in just 44 minutes.
Speaking of Svitolina, “She is obviously a fighter. She gets a lot of balls back. She doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. She’s one of those players that does everything really well. So I have to do everything well, too,” Williams said.
Svitolina retains fond memories of her 6-4, 6-3 victory over defending Olympic champion Williams in Brazil, a watershed moment which came scarcely two months after she was throttled 6-1, 6-1 by the American at Roland Garros.
“It was an unbelievable atmosphere. I played actually a great match. I was very young. Not very young, but I was kind of young at the time. I didn’t have big wins at that time. For me, it gave me lots of confidence,” Svitolina said.
“It gave me the confidence to actually let me believe that I can play consistently against the top players.”