Serena Williams said she had cleared a major hurdle in her comeback after beating Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-3 to reach her 13th US Open semi-final.
Until this victory over the world No8, Williams had lost all three of her matches against top-10 opponents since starting her return in March after a 14-month break to have her first child.
Williams said it was “shocking” that this was her first win over a top-10 player since she beat Johanna Konta at last year’s Australian Open.
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Describing it as “a really big step” in her comeback, Williams said her defeats earlier this year against her sister Venus, Angelique Kerber and Petra Kvitova had been down to a lack of matches. “I’m getting those matches now,” she said.
“Now I feel like I’m at a level where I can play and try to compete against the top 10.”
Williams said that every match meant a lot to her. “I don’t think I have another 10 years of having opportunities to be able to play and win championships,” she said.
Pliskova led 4-2 in the first set before Williams won eight games in a row with a barrage of big shots. On her 100th appearance in Arthur Ashe Stadium, she secured her 94th victory at Flushing Meadows by holding serve to love with three aces and a smash.
In Thursday’s semi-finals, Williams will face Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova, who secured a place in the last four of a Grand Slam event for the first time by beating Sloane Stephens, the defending champion, 6-2, 6-3.
The defeats of Pliskova and Stephens, who had been suffering from a sinus problem, mean that the top-10 seeds have all been knocked out, as they were in the early stages at Wimbledon.
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