NEW YORK—You had to figure, given Venus Williams’ exit from the U.S. Open just minutes before Serena Williams took the court on Arthur Ashe Stadium, that the 22-time Grand Slam champion with nothing left to prove would come out with something to prove. And on the very first point of her fourth-round match against Yaroslava Shvedova, Williams swatted an ace that brought the optic-yellow tennis ball and the royal-blue back wall together. She’s had a way of playing matchmaker with those two.
By the end of the younger Williams’ 6-2, 6-3 victory, it was less about what Serena may or may not have done for Venus, and more about what she did to her opponent. Consider that Williams won 19 of 20 first-serve points and through four rounds in Flushing Meadows has yet to drop a service game. Her second serve was very nearly as effective early on; she lost just three such points in the first set.
The serve is the one shot in which the player has complete command of the ball, but when Williams is playing well, it appears that she has the same relationship with her forehand. Shvedova’s shots needed to be struck deep and wide to have any effect on Williams, for when they landed in the middle of the court, the American’s reply was often the point’s final strike.