NEW YORK — Serena Williams reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals in her 10th straight appearance, topping Estonian Kaia Kanepi 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 on Sunday.
Williams finished the first set in just 18 minutes and nearly rallied from two breaks down in the second.
“It wasn’t an easy match at all,” she said. “I was just happy to get through it, to be honest.”
Williams next gets former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, the last woman to beat her at the U.S. Open, in the semifinals in 2016.
“I know she has a big game, but I have a big game, too,” Pliskova said after her 6-4, 6-4 win over Australian Ash Barty on Sunday. “There is always a chance for me.”
Williams could then face defending U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in the semifinals.
The 36-year-old is trying to tie Margaret Court‘s record 24 Grand Slam singles titles with her seventh U.S. Open crown. She dropped her first set of the tournament Sunday, two days after routing sister Venus 6-1, 6-2 in the third round.
Williams played Sunday one day after daughter Olympia‘s first birthday. She missed the 2017 U.S. Open due to that pregnancy, which was followed by complications and multiple surgeries.
“I want [Olympia] to sleep in the bed with me every night,” Williams said. “I heard that’s an awful thing to do. We’re already best friends.”
Williams returned to tournament play in February. She returned to Grand Slam tennis at the French Open in May, withdrawing before a fourth-round match with Maria Sharapova due to a pectoral muscle injury.
Then in July, Williams was runner-up at Wimbledon to German Angelique Kerber.
She is ranked No. 26 after missing tournaments for maternity leave. She was bumped up to the No. 17 seed at the U.S. Open.
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