Americans dominating women's bracket at U.S. Open

Female American U.S. Open semi-finalist CoCo Vandeweghe servesWomen’s tennis is alive and well in America. Thursday’s semifinals at the U.S. Open will feature four American women for the first time since 1985 as former champion Venus Williams advanced along with Sloane Stephens, CoCo Vandeweghe, and Madison Keys, guaranteeing the U.S. Open women’s title will go to an American not named Serena Williams for the first time since Venus last won in 2001.

Serena has been absent from the tennis world for the past few months to give birth to her first child, and competition for major titles has been wide open in her absence. Teenager Jelena Ostapenko won the French Open, while Venus advanced to the Wimbledon finals for the first time since 2009, but nothing has been as influential to the future of tennis as this all-American semifinal sweep on home soil.

The other three semifinalists are all at least 12 years younger than Venus, who turned 37 in June. Venus’ semifinal opponent Sloane Stephens is part of a generation that grew up looking to the Williams sisters for inspiration, and Stephens already has victories against both Venus and Serena in her career. Vandeweghe and Keys are both ranked among the top 25 in the world and vying for their first grand slam title, which could make one of them (or Stephens) the new face of the sport in the U.S.

Stephens missed close to a year with a foot injury, but she returned strong this summer with good showings at events leading up to the U.S. Open. Youth is her biggest advantage over Venus, but Venus has shown her wealth of experience to be a valuable weapon in the latter rounds of major tournaments. Vandeweghe and Keys have squared off twice over the last month with Keys winning both meetings.

While American tennis looks strong on the women’s side, the men’s bracket is a different story. The U.S. hasn’t been represented in a men’s grand slam final since Andy Roddick, who was also the last American man to win the U.S. Open in 2003. Sam Querrey made it to the quarterfinals this year before being eliminated.