The Latest on US Open: Serena defeats Venus to reach semifinals

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NEW YORK (AP) The Latest on the U.S. Open (all times local):

10 p.m.

Serena Williams has defeated sister Venus in three sets to move within two victories of completing the first Grand Slam since 1988.

The younger Williams won 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in the U.S. Open quarterfinals Tuesday night in front of a celebrity-filled crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. It was her 11th three-set victory at a major this year.

Serena improved to 9-5 against her sister in Grand Slam matches.

Serena was nearly perfect in the first set but tightened up in the second. She pulled it back together in the third, breaking Venus’ serve right away. Showing the importance of the moment, Serena started celebrating winners with big fist pumps and loud yells of “Come on!” unlike most matches against her sister.

The 35-year-old Venus kept up her sharp play of the last two rounds, but Serena – as she so often is against everyone – was simply better.

She next faces 43rd-ranked Roberta Vinci, who reached her first Grand Slam semifinal and has never defeated Williams.

9:28 p.m.

Venus Williams has pushed sister Serena to a third set in their U.S. Open quarterfinal.

The younger Williams will need to win her 11th three-set match at a major this year to keep alive her bid for the first Grand Slam since 1988. Venus took the second set 6-1 after Serena won the first 6-2.

Serena was nearly perfect in the first set but started to get tight in the second, with three double-faults. Venus, meanwhile, kept up her strong play of the last two rounds.

Serena is 8-5 against her sister at the majors.

Arthur Ashe Stadium was dotted with celebrities for the hugely anticipated match, including Oprah Winfrey, Kim Kardashian and Donald Trump.

9 p.m.

Serena Williams has won the first set of her U.S. Open quarterfinal against sister Venus as she seeks to complete the first Grand Slam since 1988.

The younger Williams took the set 6-2 in 33 minutes Tuesday night in front of a celebrity-filled crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Unlike some previous meetings when the awkwardness of the moment affected the performances of both, each was sharp at the start Tuesday. Venus kept up her strong play from the last two rounds. But Serena, as she often is against everyone, was just better. She had 15 winners to only two unforced errors and broke Venus’ powerful serve twice.

Serena is 8-5 against her sister at the majors.

7:15 p.m.

Defending champion Marin Cilic stretched his U.S. Open winning streak to 12 matches and returned to the semifinals by holding on to beat 19th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-7 (3), 6-4.

The match took nearly four hours in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday, delaying the start of the women’s quarterfinal between Serena and Venus Williams.

The ninth-seeded Cilic appeared to be heading to a relatively straightforward victory after taking the first two sets. He was 47-0 in his Grand Slam career when up by that margin.

But Tsonga steadied himself to force a fifth set, before Cilic pulled it out.

6:25 p.m.

Defending U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic is heading to a fifth set in his quarterfinal against 19th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

Cilic won the first two sets, but Tsonga took the next two, saving three match points in the fourth.

The match is being played in Arthur Ashe Stadium, so Serena and Venus Williams will not get on court for their quarterfinal until after Cilic and Tsonga are done.

2:55 p.m.

Roberta Vinci has reached her first Grand Slam semifinal at age 32.

The 43rd-ranked Italian outlasted Kristina Mladenovic 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 at the U.S. Open on Tuesday. The 22-year-old Mladenovic, who had never been past the third round at a major before this tournament, struggled with cramping on a steamy afternoon. Her fourth-round singles match didn’t end until 1 a.m. Monday, then she played doubles later that day.

Vinci, meanwhile, advanced into the quarterfinal without taking the court Sunday, when 25th-seeded Eugenie Bouchard withdrew after sustaining a concussion when she slipped and fell in the locker room two days earlier.

Mladenovic rallied from down a break in the second to force a third set, but had trainers rubbing ice on her legs during changeovers.

At 3-3 in the final set, the two played a 15-minute game with 10 deuces. Mladenovic had six game points she failed to convert.

After getting broken, the 40th-ranked Frenchwoman asked for a medical timeout. Not eligible under the rules to receive more treatment for cramping, she said it was a different injury. Vinci protested to the chair umpire as Mladenovic had her left thigh wrapped.

It wouldn’t make a difference. Mladenovic repeatedly bent over in discomfort between points, and Vinci won her last two service games to clinch victory after 2 hours, 32 minutes.

Vinci has played on the biggest stages before, winning five major doubles titles with former partner Sara Errani. She had been 0-2 in Grand Slam singles quarterfinals, both at the U.S. Open.

Tennis star Bouchard testifies about slip, fall at US Open

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NEW YORK (AP) Tennis star Eugenie Bouchard has taken the witness stand at a New York City trial to accuse the United States Tennis Association of negligence that led to her slipping on a locker room floor and hurting her head.

Bouchard testified Wednesday a wet floor caused her to slip and fall inside a locker room at the 2015 U.S. Open.

Her lawsuit contends the USTA should have done more to warn her the area had just been cleaned. The defense says she shouldn’t have entered without being accompanied by tournament personnel.

The lawsuit says the fall left Bouchard with a concussion and “serious head injury.”

Bouchard says she was forced to withdraw from the U.S. Open and tournaments in China and Japan. She’s seeking unspecified damages.

The 23-year-old Canadian player is ranked 116th in the world.

Serena Williams champions issues on, off court

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Moments after Serena Williams won her seventh Wimbledon title, she proudly raised her fist in a black power salute.

It caused a bit of frenzy at the All-England Club in 2016, but Williams’ action shouldn’t have surprised anyone: She’d already been one of the most vocal supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement. She was one of the first major athletes to decry the failure to indict a white officer in the death of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri – while also condemning violence against police.

“What caused me to speak out? Just life,” Williams said. “That’s just who I am. I always believe in the greater good and doing what’s right.”

Williams isn’t alone in her activism. Female athletes – especially black women – have long been out there pushing for social change. Wilma Rudolph’s victory parade celebrating her three gold medals from the 1960 Olympics in Rome was the first integrated event in Clarksville, Tennessee.

But despite their efforts on the field and off, women athletes have to struggle to get the same attention as men despite having as much to say, said Harry Edwards, a scholar of race and sports who has worked as a consultant for several U.S. pro teams.

“We have this twisted, almost-demented obsession with women’s second-class status with their physical inferiority,” he said. “It prevents us from appreciating the great athletes that they are … but it also means that it shuts down a potential forum that these great athletes would have where they’re valued for their athletic prowess in the same way that Muhammad Ali was, that Bill Russell was, that Tommy Smith and John Carlos were, that Arthur Ashe was, that Curt Flood was, so that when they speak, people listen.”

While Williams has long been an advocate of Black Lives Matter, it was only after former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the 2016 season that the country really began to pay attention to black athlete activism. Kaepernick added his voice to a growing national movement, enveloping the entire league and starting an ongoing conversation that ventured outside football arenas.

Similarly, few people acknowledge that after the 2016 deaths of Philando Castile, Alton Sterling and the killing of Dallas police officers, dozens of WNBA players wore shirts with the men’s names and kneeled for the national anthem.

It was a black woman, Knox College basketball player Ariyana Smith, who started the wave of athletic protest about the deaths of black men at the hands of police.

On Nov. 29, 2014, Smith made the “hands up, don’t shoot” gesture during the national anthem before a game at Fontbonne University in Clayton, Missouri, before walking toward the American flag and laying prone on the floor for 4 1/2 minutes to symbolize the 4 + hours Brown lay in the streets of nearby Ferguson.

“We as black women are often invisible, so we don’t get that credit,” said Akilah Francique, a former athlete who cofounded the Sista to Sista program to foster a sense of connectedness among black female collegiate athletes.

Williams has been a presence on and off the tennis court, not shying away from opponents en route to winning 23 Grand Slam titles or social and political issues.

She spoke up in 2015, encouraging Black Lives Matter activists not to get discouraged: “To those of you involved in equality movements like Black Lives Matter, I say this: Keep it up. Don’t let those trolls stop you. We’ve been through so much for so many centuries, and we shall overcome this too,” she wrote in Wired magazine.

Since then, Williams has become the symbol for other causes affecting people of color, including medical issues. In February, she told Vogue that she dealt with a medical scare after the birth of her daughter. She had to insist on getting extra medical tests, overruling her nurse, before her doctors discovered several small blood clots in her lungs.

Women around the country related to her story, talking about similar difficulties in getting proper medical attention.

Female-led activism can also look different than men’s, Francique said, because of the unique positions and pressures women face in sports and in life. She pointed to the criticism black women athletes have to overcome about their body shapes, training regimens, skin color, clothing and even hair when they compete in sports – criticism that Williams has endured.

“For many of them just by merely being there and having a presence is activism,” Francique said.

Williams’ older sister, Venus, who has advocated for equal pay for professional tennis while winning seven Grand Slam titles, believes it is important to have a voice on these issues.

“I think more than anything, we see ourselves as Americans, and that’s what we want to be able to see ourselves as, regardless of color,” said Venus Williams. “I think that’s what everyone is fighting for, that one day we don’t have to see that anymore.”