Venus Keeps Astounding While Sloane Stephens Keeps Ascending

With all of the frustrating news emanating from the sports sphere recently, how great was it last night to simply sit back and enjoy two remarkable athletes playing some exceptional, exciting tennis with a birth in the U.S. Open semifinals on the line?

Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens gave us more than we could have possibly asked for, reminding us that in this culture of negativity, where people of color are marginalized and sacrificed for speaking up about society’s inequities, the beauty of sport is what brought us all here in the first place.

The two will now meet up on Friday with an eye towards a spot in U.S. Open final. And what a fantastic storyline we have on tap with the 37-year-old Williams going head-to-head against the rising, 24-year-old Stephens. 

They both emerged from the semifinals with epic victories sealed by dramatic final set tiebreaks. 

Venus has been hotter than fish grease this year and is looking to get to her third Grand Slam final of 2017. With sister Serena on hiatus after recently giving birth, it’s almost as if big sis has taken advantage of the moment to remind everyone that she might be overlooked, but she remains one of the greatest players the sport has ever seen.

2017 US Open: Venus Williams vs. Kvitova Match Highlights

Venus Williams takes it in three against Petra Kvitova and lands a spot in the SF. She plays fellow American Sloane Stephens next. Keep up with all the news from the front lines of the 2017 US Open:

It wasn’t that long ago when Venus had been written off. But she’s subtly reminding everyone who thought she’d seen her better days, to borrow a phrase from Roy Jones, Jr., “Ya’ll musta forgot!!!”

Remarkably, this is the first year that Venus has made three Grand Slam semis since 2002. Last night’s 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-2) win over Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, was epic. Midway through the third set, it seemed as if Kvitova was taking control, but Venus weathered the storm, looking as composed and spry as ever. 

Venus is now 20-3 in Grand Slam matches this year as she continues to write the next compelling chapter of her storied and remarkable career.

Stephens, who was on the shelf for close to a year due to a leg injury, is shooting to reach her first Grand Slam final and potentially a first major title. 

When she nailed that beautiful backhand up the line to secure her nail-biting 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4) win over the excellent Latvian Anastasija Sevastova, she became the first American woman not named Serena or Venus to earn a spot in the U.S. Open semi’s since Jennifer Capriati and Lindsay Davenport did so in 2004. 

Stephens will be appearing in her second career Grand Slam semifinal, her first since her compelling run at the Australian Open in 2013. Like Venus, she also fought through some stiff competition in Flushing Meadows, winning two tough three-set matches to get here.

The last time and only time they played one another, Stephens won 7-6, 6-1 in the opening round at of the French Open in 2015. 

Stephens returned from her foot surgery and extended layoff at Wimbledon. But her brief stay there left no clue as to what she’d be accomplishing now, especially considering that she’d never advanced this far at the U.S. Open before.

2017 US Open: Stephens vs. Sevastova Top 5 Plays

Relive the top 5 plays from the quarterfinal battle between Sloane Stephens and Anastasija Sevastova. Keep up with all the news from the front lines of the 2017 US Open:

No one has more Grand Slam wins this year than Venus, and she doesn’t like like she’ll be limping off into the sunset anytime soon. 

Stephens’ remarkable run could be a harbinger of things to come. If she can maintain this level of play in the future, we might be looking at a young woman capable of filling the huge void in terms of American excellence in women’s tennis once Serena and Venus decide to eventually hang up their rackets.

When I started the comeback at Wimbledon, Id never, ever dream of something like this happening, Stephens told the crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium after her win last night.

And with that, we have a dream matchup between Venus, who continues to astound, and Stephens, who continues to ascend.

If you’re exhausted at what’s been going on lately in sports, as I am, I suggest you check out their upcoming match and give these African-American women some thanks in advance for reminding us of the beauty, integrity, strength and desire of what competition and our beloved games should fully represent. 

In this day and time of Colin Kaepernick being blackballed, Jason Whitlock’s mental midgetry, the NFL’s Ezekiel Elliott fiasco and Michael Bennett having an up-close reminder of what it means to Black in America when you’re not wearing your uniform, Venus and Sloane Stephens have given us a much-needed dose of fresh air.

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