Venus Williams reaches Australian Open semis

By The Sports Xchange
Venus Williams of the United States. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Venus Williams of the United States. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

For the first time in 14 years, Venus Williams is headed to the Australian Open semifinals.

Her opponent, CoCo Vandeweghe, will be competing in a major semifinal for the first time in her career.


Williams, a 36-year-old American who is seeded 14th, earned a 6-4, 7-6 (3) victory over 24th-seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenko in a quarterfinal match Tuesday at Melbourne, Australia.

Vandeweghe, an unseeded 25-year-old American, overpowered seventh-seeded Spaniard Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-0.

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Venus Williams lost to sister Serena Williams in the 2003 Australian Open final. Her only other appearance in the semis or better Down Under was a semifinal loss to top-ranked Martina Hingis in 2001.

An arm injury caused Venus Williams to pull out of the warmup tournament in Auckland, New Zealand, earlier this month, making her surge in Melbourne even more surprising.

"There was so much anxiety ... so to be standing here, with the opportunity to go to the finals is, like, 'Oh my God,'" Williams said.

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Williams received assistance from Pavlyuchenkova, who racked up nine double faults, including one on match point. Williams also logged more than twice as many winners as Pavlyuchenkova, 35-17.


Vandeweghe, who upset top-seeded Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, was competing in just her second career Grand Slam quarterfinal. She fell in the quarters at Wimbledon in 2015.

On Tuesday, Vandeweghe recorded the only service break of the first set in the seventh game, converting her eighth break point of the match. The second set was no contest, with the American winning all nine of her first-serve points and producing 12 winners to two from Muguruza.

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"She finally cracked, and once I got rolling in the second, it was like a freight train, you couldn't stop it," Vandeweghe said. "I really wasn't feeling all that great out there. I was really kind of nervous. I even told my coach -- better get some toilet paper out there.

"I tried to play my best and stay within myself. I fought through a few break points early on. It was really frustrating. ... I was second-guessing myself with what to do with the serve."

Vandeweghe is excited about the opportunity to face Venus Williams.

"She's someone I sought after for an autograph way back when ... it took two matches to push through the crowd and get one," she said. "It's an honor to play a great champion like Venus."


The other half of the quarterfinals will be played Wednesday. Serena Williams, the second seed, will oppose ninth-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain, and fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic will play unseeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia.

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