Serena Williams made the US Open debut in 1998, reaching the third round and becoming the nation's biggest prospect. A year later, still at 17, Serena conquered the first out of six US Open crowns, always receiving the best treatment and playing most of her matches on the world's greatest tennis stadium.
In 1998 and 1999, Serena had two US Open's encounters outside Arthur Ashe Stadium, playing for the last time outside of it on September 6, 1999, against Conchita Martinez on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Williams has had the opportunity to perform her previous 111 US Open clashes on Arthur Ashe Stadium, ruling the sport's biggest court and becoming the first player with 100 victories on it in the fourth round on Monday.
Serena toppled Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-7, 6-3 in two hours and 28 minutes, advancing to her 17th quarter-final in New York and achieving the milestone that will take some beating in the future. Serena won eight points more than her Greek opponent, playing better behind the second serve and suffering one break in the decider.
It pushed Sakkari 2-0 in front but wasn't enough to keep her safe, with Williams securing two out her three breaks in the decider to cross the finish line first and remain on the course for that elusive 24th Major crown.
Giving her everything against one of the greatest players of all time, Sakkari had more winners and more errors, wasting her opportunities in the final set and losing ground to propel Serena into the last eight. Both players were off to a flying start, losing four points in the opening four games before Serena faced a stern test in game five.
Playing against three break chances, Williams grabbed five straight points to avoid the setback and bring the game home after too many Maria's errors. The Greek squandered four game points a few minutes later, allowing Serena to convert the third break chance and open a 4-2 gap after forcing an error from the rival.
Serena Williams is the only player with 100 victories at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The six-time champion served well in game seven to extend the lead, firing three winners in game nine to grab the opener 6-3. Pushing each other to the limits, Serena and Maria delivered 11 strong holds in set number two, before Serena fended off two set points with service winners in the 12th game, setting up a tie break, the must-win one for Sakkari.
The Greek wasted two more set points at 6-4 in the breaker, staying calm and sealing the set after forcing Serena's error at 7-6. With the momentum on her side, Sakkari grabbed a break at the beginning of the decider to forge a 2-0 advantage, looking good to send Serena packing before the quarter-final round for the first time since 2006!
Maria could have moved 3-1 in front, losing serve instead to bring Serena back to 2-2 and suffering another break in game eight when her forehand found the net. Serving at 5-3, Williams forced a backhand error from Sakkari to move over the top and unleash a massive roar towards her team in a moment of relief.