Serena Williams’ quest for a historic 24th Grand Slam individual title ended in the early hours of Friday morning in the US Open semifinals against longtime opponent Victoria Azarenka.
— wta (@WTA) September 11, 2020
Williams was not saved by an Achilles tear early in the decider requiring a heavy sling, and his search for Margaret Court’s record continues.
In contrast, two-time Australian Open champion Azarenka meets Naomi Osaka in a story of extraordinary revival.
A shadow of his previous personality since returning from maternity leave in 2017, the 31-year-old was almost eliminated as a top contender before taking the same spot at the Western & Southern Open last month.
“I knew it was not over at 5-3 yet,” said the Belarusian. “I’ve been there before. Today was going to be different. I was young, my ego was way too big. Now it is a little less and the result’s coming.”
The presence of so many mothers in the draw and in the finals of the tournament is the main topic of conversation and Azarenka hopes she can encourage other women to achieve high goals.
“We hope this inspires women to pursue their dreams,” she said. “I feel like you can’t always identify yourself just as one thing. There is a lot to do in your life.
“Being a parent is the most important thing in my life, but I am a tennis player on the court, I am a fighter on the court and when I pursue my dreams I inspire my children and I hope women all over the world know that they can do anything. because parenting is the hardest part. So if you keep your balance, you can do anything.”
A long-running custody battle with his former partner over their three-year-old son, Leo, kept her away for several spells on and off the pitch while their confidence waned.
After the second consecutive final against Williams in New York in 2013, it was the world’s first semifinal in slam. Both were good, close ties, but both were won by the American.
But it was a little better as Azarenka continued in a run of form where she lost just one game to Elise Mertens in the quarter-finals.
In contrast, Williams has gone through three fights against Sloane Stevens, Maria Sakari and Tsvetana Pironkova, but put the slightest bit of vulnerability into a pulsating start.
Victoria Azarenka will face Naomi Osaka in the US Open finals on Saturday.