Serena Williams on Course for 24th Grand Slam Title
Serena Williams is on course for her 24th Grand Slam title after a three set defeat of Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarter-finals of the women’s event at Flushing Meadows.
The 38-year-old American came from a set down to win 4-6 6-3 6-2 to end the Bulgarian’s fairy-tale run at the US Open.
The Defeat brought an end to the fairytale return for the player from Plovdiv, who following a shoulder injury in 2017 decided to start a family and take time out from the sport.
Pironkova chose the Flushing Meadows tournament to mark her comeback and entered at the first-round stage courtesy of a protected ranking of 123rd – the position she occupied when she last played.
Williams paid tribute to the Bulgarian for reaching the last eight in her first tournament since 2017.
“It shows me how tough mums are,” the former champion said. “Whenever you can birth a baby, honestly you can do anything. We saw that today, she played unbelievable.
“I could barely win a match when I came back, so she’s incredible. Her baby has to be younger than mine – you play a match, go home and you’re still changing diapers, it’s like a double life.
The American six-time champion, 38, struggled early on with the variety of shots from the unranked player who was in her first tournament in three years.
The Bulgarian, 32, broke in the fifth game en route to taking the first set.
Pironkova tired as Williams took the second and broke twice in the third.
The veteran will now play former world number one Victoria Azarenka, whom she beat in the 2012 and 2013 US Open finals.
Williams said she could not afford another sluggish start if she is to reach her fifth Grand Slam final in three years.
“I was feeling it a little in my legs and an hour in, for some reason, I got more energy. I can’t do that if I want to keep winning,” said the American, who last won the US Open in 2014.
“I play again on Thursday. I am used to playing back to back to back, but I need to figure out how to start a little bit faster.
“I keep fighting, I never give up. You’ve got to keep going.”