Venus Williams was one match from playing her sister Serena again in the Australian Open, but their meeting was canceled by someone who idolized them.
Venus was defeated by Madison Keys, one of the newer faces of American tennis, in a topsy-turvy Australian match lasting three sets. Keys took the first set and nearly came back in the second after an injury, and in the decider withstood several momentum swings to close things out. Keys beat the stateswoman of the sport by using fast shots and a playing style similar to Venus. As Sloane Stephens did several years ago at the Australian Open, Keys declared her arrival as a pro with an upset over a Williams sister.
Keys, who has a Black father and a white mother, is one of a few Black women following a path the Williams family blazed. There is the chance Keys could take it all in Australia, but she will have to beat a Serena looking for her 19th grand slam and another record to break. Keys may have done something unprecedented with the Williams sisters though: not in recent times has three Black women made it to a singles grand slam quarterfinals all at once. A statistic like that shows one of many ways Venus and Serena changed women’s tennis.
All is not lost for Venus, who has been on a roll this past year and could pull off another grand slam win soon. Madison will face Serena at the Australian semifinals in a battle between the success story and a successor.