Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens each won their quarterfinal matches Tuesday, setting up a showdown in the semifinals featuring two black American women.
Williams, 37, won a breathtaking quarterfinal match against Petra Kvitova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2). The grueling battle took two hours, and thirty-four minutes. It was an epic display of all the tenets that has made Williams such a great champion: perseverance, focus, resilience and extraordinary skill.
Stephens also went three sets in her quarterfinal match against Anastasija Sevastova, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (4). Stephens, who is coming back from foot surgery, showed the tenacity and determination it takes to be a champion.
Now, we aren’t surprised to see black women in the semifinals and finals of major tennis events, considering the nearly two decades of dominance by Venus, and her sister, Serena.
However, Stephens represents the next generation, as does Madison Keys, who defeated Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 6-3 in her quarterfinal match Wednesday. Her victory sets up an all American semifnals, featuring three African-Americans women in the semifinals.
Keys will face Coco Vandeweghe, the niece of former NBA star, Kiki Vandeweghe. Sloan and Williams will face off in the other semifinal match.
Of course, there is some history for black women in professional tennis even before the Williams sisters. Althea Gibson, a FAMU grad, won the French Open, U.S. Open and Wimbledon titles in the late ‘50s.
Stephens, 24, has four WTA titles to her credit, and has earned more than $4 million in prize money. Keys, 22, has captured three career titles and earned $5 million.
It is good to know that when (and if, considering their stellar play) the Williams sisters decide to call it a career, there are young stars ready to follow in their footsteps.