Williams sisters advance into semis

CBSSports.com wire reports
Serena Williams defeats Lucie Safarova to win her 13th straight match, and will face sister Venus in the semis. (AP)
Serena Williams defeats Lucie Safarova to win her 13th straight match, and will face sister Venus in the semis. (AP)

CHARLESTON, S.C --Top-ranked Serena Williams and sister Venus both won twice on Friday to reach the Family Circle Cup semifinals and set up their first sibling showdown since 2009.

Serena won her 13th straight match by defeating sixth-seeded Lucie Safarova, 6-4, 6-1. Earlier, she topped Mallory Burdette in a third-round match moved due to Thursday's 7 1/2-hour rain delay.

Venus also had double duty, downing Varvara Lepchenko in three sets before ousting Madison Keys later on Billie Jean King Court.

The Williams sisters next go for a spot in the finals Saturday. They haven't met in a tournament since the 2009 Tour Championships in Qatar. Serena holds a 13-10 lead, although they're 1-1 on clay.

"For the record, we've never played two matches on the same day," Serena told the stadium crowd. "You guys had a real treat."

The sisters were the first four matches on the stadium court -- and they only dropped one set combined.

"It was a quadruple-header," Venus said with a laugh. "I don't know if that's ever going to happen again."

Serena is seeking her third Family Circle title after wins in her past two appearances in 2008 and 2012. Venus took this title in 2004 and scored the clinching points last September when the Washington Kastles took the World Team Tennis crown at Family Circle Tennis Center.

On the other side of the draw, Jelena Jankovic won her 500th career match with a straight sets victory over Eugenie Bouchard. Jankovic will face either No. 2 seed Caroline Wozniacki or Stephanie Voegele in the semifinals.

"In order to have 500 wins, you have to have a pretty long career, be pretty consistent," Jankovic said.

Venus Williiams looked her most comfortable of the week against the power-hitting Keys. Williams had needed a third set to pull out both her previous matches and it looked as though it might happen again when Keys was a point away from moving in front 4-1 in the second set.

But Williams was able to win five of the final six games, securing her second semifinal berth in four tournaments this year.

Venus Williams seemed to have her first match under control, ahead 6-2 and 3-0 in the second set. Lapchenko though won seven of the next eight games while a chilly drizzle fell in the middle of the second set and took a 1-0 lead in the decisive set. That's when Williams again found her game and pulled away by winning six of the final seven games.

Venus Williams returned to clay-court action at the 2012 Family Circle after an absence of about two years on the surface. A bout with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's Syndrome kept her from the game for almost six months between the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 Sony Open.

Safarova, who lost to Serena Williams, 6-0, 6-1 in the 2012 finals, led in the opening set and had a point to go up 5-2 but couldn't take it. Instead, Williams won the final four games to take the set.

Williams big serves and power game smothered Safarova after that.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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