A Resurgent Leader Advances Past a Valiant Opponent

But only Williams, the No. 9 seed, will get to keep riding the wave at this Open, and her stirring 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (2) victory over the 13th-seeded Kvitova earned her a semifinal date on Thursday with an American power player of a different generation: the unseeded 24-year-old Sloane Stephens.

It also kept alive the possibility of an all-American women’s semifinals.

“How awesome would that be, guys?” Stephens asked the crowd in her postmatch interview after defeating Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia in a third-set tiebreaker of her own.

In Wednesday’s quarterfinals, Coco Vandeweghe of the United States will play Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, and Madison Keys of the United States will then face Kaia Kanepi of Estonia.

“I think we have to give some credit to Serena,” Williams said of her absent sister, who has long dominated the sport and inspired would-be champions, and who gave birth to a daughter last week.

But Venus Williams said she remembered very well the days earlier in her career when her principal rivals were Americans like Jennifer Capriati, Lindsay Davenport and Monica Seles.

“So I love seeing these young Americans coming up playing big and focused,” Williams said.

She added: “All I’ve known all my life is great American players, so it’s great to see this resurgence, and I hope it can continue.”

Stephens, who defeated Venus Williams in their only previous match in the first round of the 2015 French Open, called her “our leader.” And no matter how unexpected, there is no doubt about which American player has had the finest, most consistent season in the Grand Slam events this year.

Williams reached the final at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon, and the fourth round at the French Open, and has now advanced to the semifinals at the U.S. Open. She has done so 20 years after she made her first appearance here, with beads in her hair and braces on her teeth as she reached the final before losing to Martina Hingis. That coming-out party in 1997 came in the same year that cavernous Arthur Ashe Stadium was opened.

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Kvitova has returned to Grand Slam competition after a home invasion and knife attack last year.

Credit
Michelle V. Agins/The New York Times

Much has changed in tennis since then, including the addition of Ashe’s retractable roof. But Williams has endured while so…

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