Serena Williams at peak performance entering U.S. Open semifinals

Serena Williams needed just 44 minutes to defeat Wang Qiang in straight sets on Tuesday to reach the U.S. Open semifinal round. Photo Credit: EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/JASON SZENES

On the march toward her record-tying 24th career Grand Slam singles crown, the 37-year-old will face fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina on Thursday.

Serena Williams needed just 44 minutes to defeat Wang Qiang in straight sets on Tuesday to reach the U.S. Open semifinal round.
Serena Williams needed just 44 minutes to defeat Wang Qiang in straight sets on Tuesday to reach the U.S. Open semifinal round. Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tim Warner

After reaching another milestone in her legendary career, Serena Williams’ pursuit of yet another U.S. Open crown resumes Thursday against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.

Williams, the No. 8 seed and a six-time champion in Flushing Meadows, carries with her the momentum of a dominant quarterfinal victory on Tuesday against Wang Qiang of China. She needed only 44 minutes to earn her 100th career victory at the U.S. Open, winning 6-1, 6-0.

“It feels good,” Williams said after the match. “It feels like, OK, this is what I’ve been training for. This is how hard I’ve been working. It feels like hard work pays off when that happens.”

Williams completely outclassed 18th-seeded Wang, a Grand Slam quarterfinalist for the first time, in well under an hour, with a margin of winners hit at 25-0. 

“I’ve been working on my speed, getting shots,” Williams said. “I didn’t give her too many chances in the match.”

Standing between 37-year-old Williams and her 24th Grand Slam singles title, which would tie Margaret Court for the record, is fifth-seeded Svitolina, who is playing in her first U.S. Open semifinal and just the second of her career after reaching the round of four at this summer’s Wimbledon.

“Well, she is obviously a fighter” Williams said of her next opponent. “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.”

Svitolina advanced to Thursday’s matchup with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Brit Johanna Konta and knows the test she faces against Williams, whom she called an "amazing champion." 

“Definitely it’s a big challenge to play against her,” Svitolina said. “You have to bring your best game to beat them.”

The 24-year-old Ukrainian raved about Williams, who won her first U.S. Open crown one day before Svitolina’s fifth birthday.

“She has a big serve,” she said. “That’s obvious to everyone. And that’s what I have to expect. I have to react quickly and try to take my chances when I have.”

Derrel Jazz Johnson