It was a tougher fight than expected, but the number one ranked tennis player on the women's singles circuit, Serena Williams, managed to win her U.S. Open battle in the third round against fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Friday. After a difficult first set, Williams battled through the lengthy match to take the second set 7-5, and easily captured the third set 6-0. The win also kept her dreams of achieving a rare Grand Slam alive.
"I'm not trying to live on the edge," Williams told reporters on the court after the 109-minute match. "I don't think I came out too slow, I just think Bethanie played really well."
Williams now faces American Madison Keys in the fourth round, but her sights are set on more than just a simple tournament win. If Williams takes the overall win at the U.S. Open, she'll be one of three other women to cement her place in history as a Grand Slam winner, a player who has managed to take home all four Majors in a single calendar year (the tournaments include the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open). Previously, that honor has gone to Maureen Connolly in 1953, Margaret Court in 1970, and Steffi Graf in 1988.
As ESPN's Greg Garber reported on Friday, Williams may end up facing sister Venus if she's able to pull off another win against Keys on Monday — something she's already done once before at the Australia Open earlier this year. But that doesn't mean it's going to be easy.
The 19th-ranked 20-year-old Keys battled hard to eventually defeat No. 15 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland this week, advancing to the next round where she'll face off with Williams in what will likely be an exciting match. Despite the rough road ahead, however, Williams explained that she was planning on taking everything one step at a time.
"I only have one match, the only I'm looking forward to is the next one," said Williams to reporters on Friday. "That's all I can do."