The tennis world’s highly touted Sisters Act, Serena and Venus Williams, stayed on course for a possible semifinal showdown with impressive off-Broadway matinee performances at the U.S. Open Sunday. The sisters are the only American pros to reach the quarterfinals… No. 8 seed Serena, looking a bit more somber than usual, began play on Arthur Ashe stadium court, defeating No. 10 Marion Bartoli 6-3, 6-4. Six hours later, No. 12 Venus brought the curtain down on the afternoon entertainment, beating No. 5 Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-2.

Though not as sharp as she’d like to be, Serena was coolly efficient, smacking 32 winners, including 10 aces. She never lost control of the match and lifted her game with booming service winners on key points. “I almost just couldn’t return her serves,” Bartoli said. “I mean, when it’s coming 125 miles per hour, I don’t even see the ball. I can’t see if it’s in the middle or wide serve.

Does Bartoli believe Serena will be the last woman standing on Monday at this Grand Slam event?
“She have to beat Justine (Henin) in the next match and maybe Venus, her sister or (Jelena) Jankovic,” Bartoli said. “Definitely, this year she can win this tournament.”

Consecutive quarterfinal losses (French Open and Wimbledon) to No. 1 Henin might be behind Serena’s near brooding mood. Henin must beat Dinara Safina tonight before a third consecutive Henin vs. S. Williams Grand Slam match becomes a reality. Serena expects Henin to be across the net in the next round.

“I’m going in feeling like I have nothing to lose,” Serena said. “I just feel different now, excited about the prospect of meeting her again.”

Analyzing the losses to Henin, Serena said, “At Wimbledon I couldn’t hit a backhand, so I’m very confident in that fact that I’ll be able to do that. She played well at the French. I don’t think I played well, but I think she did and she was really focused. It’s just a new start for me.”

Big sis Venus began her new start a couple of months ago, winning her fourth Wimbledon crown. She stayed on course for a third U.S. Open with a masterful effort against the women tour’s fifth ranked pro. Venus used her sledge hammer serve and powerful ground strokes to keep Ivanovic on her heels, especially in the second set. Afterwards, Ivanovic said Venus as a good chance of being this year’s winner.

“She’s the type of player that plays better each match,” Ivanovic said. “And as the tournament progresses, she is raising her level. It’s a tough part of the draw, but I’m sure she can do good.”

Said Venus: “I have to use my serve as a weapon. It’s just about being able to perform when it’s most necessary.”

If Serena gets by Henin and Venus knocks off No. 3 Jankovic, the sisters would meet for the 15th time. The head-to-head series is tied 7-7.
“That would be awesome because it would mean that there’s a Williams in the final,” Venus said. “And that would mean that an American has a chance to win. One more step. If that happens, we would have an American in the final.”

Said Serena: “Obviously, I want nothing but the best for her, and she wants nothing but the best for me. Unless, of course, we’re playing each other. Then it’s like, okay, I want to win. That’s how we look at it.”