Good sportsmanship. Credit: Getty Images
Two icons of women’s tennis who are champions not only on, but off the court as well. Their semifinal battle was supposed to be for the history books and it did not disappoint.
On September 10th, 2020, Serena Williams met Victoria Azarenka at the women’s semifinals of the US Open. They have met 22 times, 10 of those meetings were at Grand Slam tournaments. Serena Williams leads their head to head record 18-4.
Both these women have deep mutual respect for each other. The last time they faced off was in 2016, where Azarenka beat Williams in Indian Wells and became the fourth player to capture the Sunshine Double. They had a three-year hiatus when they didn’t meet on court. Both of them became mothers and overcame adversities, not only associated with the struggle of coming back to professional competitive sports after giving birth, but also injuries, and in Azarenka’s case- a custody battle for her son.
Yesterday, it was a match like no other. Serena Williams was en route to bid for her 24th Grand Slam title, and Azarenka for her first US Open title. The match was intense. The first set went to Williams, 6-1 – Azarenka couldn’t fend off the powerful serves and deep precise groundstrokes. Yet, Azarenka found a way to battle back in the latter sets, due to Serena’s Achilles injury, winning the last two sets 6-3 6-3.
This gives Azarenka a chance to fight for her third Grand Slam major title in her final since 2018. She’s going to play Naomi Osaka on Sunday at 4pm on Arthur Ashe Stadium. It should be a fairly even match between the two women. Naomi, a 22-year old with two Grand Slams under her belt is currently regaining her form after a shaky 2019 season and Azarenka, a 31-year old who is on a roll after her first major win at the Western & Southern Open.