Williams misplaced the primary set earlier than prevailing 2-6 6-2 6-2 to succeed in the fourth spherical, her serve — and legendary need to win — taking part in a giant issue at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
Followers are being stored away this 12 months because of the coronavirus pandemic, with the event working a bubble just like different sports activities. However there watching Williams was her daughter, Olympia, and husband Alexis Ohanian.
The 38-year-old Williams faces one other stern check on Monday when she meets Greece’s Maria Sakkari — who beat her final week.
The turnaround for Williams in opposition to Stephens got here at 2-2 within the second, when she saved a break level earlier than breaking for 4-2 in opposition to the 2017 champion.
She hit 13 winners and solely 5 unforced errors in floor stroke exchanges whereas Williams tallied 14 unforced errors and simply seven winners.
After the important thing two-game swing, although, Williams raised her sport. She did not face one other break level and completed with 12 aces.
When Williams broke for 3-1 within the third, Stephens’ possibilities all however evaporated.
The victory is certain to be a confidence booster for Williams after struggling upset quarterfinal losses at two warmup occasions when she held commanding leads. That included in opposition to Sakkari on the Western & Southern Open, when Williams led by a set and 5-3.
If she goes all the way in which in New York, Williams would tie Margaret Court docket for the all-time lead in Grand Slam titles.
Even in defeat, it is the kind of outing that might kick-start Stephens’ profession. Nobody has ever questioned her expertise however Stephens has struggled since reaching the French Open ultimate in 2018.
She entered the US Open with a 1-7 document in 2020 and solely received a seeding of 26th when different gamers pulled out of the draw.
In addition to Williams’ household, fellow gamers Naomi Osaka, Dominic Thiem, Sofia Kenin and Petra Kvitova took within the motion from their luxurious suites on Arthur Ashe that might in any other case go to company sponsors and company.
Saturday’s most dramatic contest noticed Karolina Muchova — who beat Venus Williams within the first spherical — save three match factors to defeat Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2 2-6 7-6 (7).
The Czech turned the most recent participant to avoid wasting match factors en path to victory this week, following Andy Murray, Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Cameron Norrie and Varvara Gracheva.
In a large upset within the males’s draw, Canada’s unseeded Vasek Pospisil beat Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5 2-6 4-6 6-Three 6-2. The eighth-seeded Spaniard got here near ending Novak Djokovic’s unblemished 2020 document final week on the Western & Southern Open in New York.