U.S. Open: Serena Defeats Sister Venus; Keeps Eye On Grand Slam
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
If Serena Williams wins two more matches, she wins everything. If she wins those matches, she captures the U.S. Open and, thus, all of the Grand Slam events in tennis in a single year. Serena defeated her sister, Venus, in a three-set match last night, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. Courtney Nguyen is a senior writer for the WTA Insider and among those who were at the match. Welcome to the program.
COURTNEY NGUYEN: Hello.
INSKEEP: What did it feel like to be there?
NGUYEN: It was pretty incredible. I mean, the crowd was, at times, a little undecided about what it wanted to happen down there. I mean, you obviously have Serena and all this history of what she's going for. And then you have Venus Williams, who I think is really one of the feel-good stories of the two that night. So even with all the rallies and all of the excitement, there were times where it was a little bit tense out there in terms of just where the crowd wanted things to go. But in the end, I thought that it was just a great show for, you know, the fans, but also just a great statement about what these two sisters have meant to American tennis and American sports over the last 17 years.
INSKEEP: Explain what makes Venus Williams a feel-good story right now.
NGUYEN: Well, she's older. She's 35 years old. She's been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that really affects her energy levels on a day-to-day basis. So even coming into this tournament, she didn't really look all that great during the summer in terms of her level of play and really was overlooked. I don't think that when the draw came out people genuinely thought this match was going to happen. So in that way, you kind of want her to have that success.
INSKEEP: And she did, of course, take a set from her sister along the way, although she was defeated in the end. How strong has Serena Williams's play been so far in this tournament?
NGUYEN: Well, unfortunately for Venus Williams, last night was really the best match Serena Williams has played all through the tournament. She genuinely starts tournaments pretty slow, a little scratchy, a little nervy, but she really unlocks when she starts to play players that she really respects. And she played really well against the young American, Madison Keys, now against Venus. She's really just on her way. She's getting better and better with each match.
INSKEEP: And now she faces the Italian player Roberta Vinci, who was not expected to get anywhere near this far. That maybe is not the kind of player who would bring out Serena Williams's strongest game, according to what you just said.
NGUYEN: Yeah, no. I mean, she's a tricky player, Roberta Vinci. But, yeah, she came out of a section that really benefited from a lot of withdrawals and a lot of early losses, so definitely a surprise semifinalist - first Slam semifinal for 32-year-old Roberta Vinci. And you expect Serena Williams to roll right past her. She's beaten her in all four of their meetings.
INSKEEP: Well, what does it mean for tennis if Serena Williams goes all the way?
NGUYEN: It means a whole heck of a lot for tennis, especially tennis in America. You know, it's a sport that struggles to kind of cut through, even during the U.S. Open, all the noise surrounding the NFL and things like that. But I think that with Serena Williams and what she's been trying to do all season, this is really where it puts tennis, you know, on a different level this summer. And people are paying attention, which is great for us.
INSKEEP: Well, Courtney Nguyen, thanks very much. Enjoy the rest of the tournament.
NGUYEN: Thank you.
INSKEEP: She's a senior writer for the WTA Insider. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.