Sep 8, 2015; New York, NY, USA; Venus Williams of the United States (left) greets sister Serena Williams of the United States after their match on day nine of the 2015 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory

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Liguori: Williams Sisters Act Still Talk of US Open After Almost Two Decades

Ann Liguori
August 28, 2018 - 1:59 pm
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“Since You’ve Been Gone,” one of singer/songwriter Kelly Clarkson’s hits, could have applied to Serena Williams absence last year at the US Open. The song was among several that Clarkson sang to kick off the Opening Night Ceremony of the 50th Anniversary of the US Open on Monday evening. It’s a good thing for American tennis that the song could be re-worded to, ‘Since You’ve Been Back!’

Serena missed the 2017 US Open and the entire summer US swing last year while pregnant. She gave birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on September 1, 2017.

The 36-year-old has been working her way back into shape. After she withdrew from the French Open before playing Maria Sharapova in the Round of 16 with a right pectoral muscle tear, Serena reached the finals of Wimbledon, losing to Angelique Kerber.

Last night, the packed Ashe Stadium crowd showed their affection, letting Serena know that she was missed. They applauded the 23-time Major winner’s every move as she made rather quick work of Magda Linette of Poland, 6-4, 6-love in 70 minutes.

Serena Williams
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“It’s such a great feeling to be back out here,” said Serena. “The first set was tight, my first match back here in NY,” added Serena. But she settled in and cruised through the second. Serena fired 6 aces in all and hit 23 winners to Linette’s 9.

Earlier in the day, older sister Venus Williams, opened with a tough three-set win against 2014 US Open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 in the intense afternoon heat and humidity.

The 38-year-old had two match points at 5-3 in the second set after relinquishing a 4-1 lead, but Kuznetsova rallied back to force a third and final set. Venus utilized the heat rule and took a ten-minute break after the second set[AL1] . The break must have helped as Venus came back out looking a bit cooler and refreshed. She stayed aggressive and closed it out, 6-3.

Venus has struggled in the Majors this year, losing in the first round of the Australian Open and the French Open and losing in the third round of Wimbledon, a championship she has won five times. The tennis legend is playing in her 20th U.S. Open and her 80th Grand Slam main draw appearance. And she has won 7 Majors with back-to-back titles at the US Open in 2000 and 2001.

Adding to the intrigue of the Williams sister’s success here and their affection for each other is the fact that it’s very possible they could play each other in the third round. They’ve meet 29 times in their careers and Serena has won 17 of those 29 matches. Serena will next play Carina Witthoeft of Germany. Venus Williams will have a second round encounter against Camila Giorgi of Italy. The sisters should glide into the third round. It’s a shame they would play each other so early in the tournament. Serena, ranked 26th as she makes her comeback, was given a seeding of 17 by the USTA.

They’ve both had more than their share of injuries and ailments yet they continue to overcome and achieve. Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome years ago, an autoimmune disorder that causes fatigue and joint pain. In 2011, Serena had pulmonary embolism and required treatment for a hematoma. And she survived serious complications after giving birth to her daughter.

With top seed Simona Halep out of the championship, the first victim of the 2018 US Open, the top half of the women’s draw, opens up quite a bit. And all eyes will be on the Williams sisters, as has been the case, for the past two decades!

Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori.