By Ann Liguori
» More Columns
NEW YORK (WFAN) — It’s Labor Day, and I can’t think of a better time to appreciate the high-achieving efforts of several of the young American women this year at the US Open.
Five American players advanced to the fourth round in the women’s draw. Venus Williams and Sloane Stephens are already through to the quarterfinals and Jennifer Brady, CoCo Vandeweghe and Madison Keys will try to join them in the quarters with center stage matches Monday.
Venus Williams, 19-3 in majors this year, advanced to the 39th quarterfinal of her career with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 win over Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain. Venus is playing in her 19th US Open. She won back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001. This year, the 37-year-old has enjoyed a resurgence, advancing to the finals of both the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Venus and her sister, Serena, who gave birth to a baby girl Friday, have led the American effort for years. Between them, they own eight US Open titles. It’s easy to see how they’ve been an inspiration in American tennis – just look at the depth we’re seeing in the women’s draw this year!
Stephens was the first of the group to advance to the quarterfinals with her win Sunday. She defeated the 30th seed, Julia Goerges of Germany, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, reaching her first US Open quarterfinals and her first major quarterfinals since the 2013 Wimbledon.
What’s remarkable is the fact that the 24-year-old was out of the game for 11 months. She said her foot injury flared up after the 2016 Olympics, and she had foot surgery in January. After all that time being out, she seems to have returned with a refreshing attitude and vigor for the game.
Stephens said that while she was away, she got to go to weddings, baby showers, soccer games.
“Obviously, I was upset that I was injured,” she said after her win over Goerges. “But in that time, I got to do all of the things that I would never have been able to do. Looking back, it was probably the best. … I got to enjoy all those things. … I think that now that I’m running around and sweating, my ponytail is flying. These are all such great things. I think I’m just happy to be running around and competing again.”
Brady, a former UCLA standout who has been training in Orlando at the new USTA National Tennis Campus, will try to get past top-seed Karolina Pliskova in the first match on the Ashe Court at 11 a.m. Monday. Brady, originally from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, pulled out a third-set tiebreaker against Monica Niculescu on Saturday to get the opportunity of a lifetime, an afternoon appearance on Labor Day on the Ashe Stadium show court.
Vandeweghe will then try to continue her impressive play in her fourth-round match against Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic on the Ashe Court. Vandeweghe ousted the 10th seed, Agnieszka Radwanska, in three sets to get here. The hard-hitting, 22-year-old Californian carries herself with a lot of confidence and swagger.
And 15th-seed Keys will play under the lights on the Ashe Court in the evening session, with a fourth-round confrontation against Elina Svitolina, the fourth seed from Ukraine. Keys was able to rally past 17th-seed Elena Vesnina in three sets to get here.
I can’t think of a better way to spend a Labor Day – watching young American talent attempt to continue to make Americans proud.
Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori