New York : Serena and Venus Williams set up a 30th career meeting as the US Open reeled from a sexism row sparked when a player changed her shirt on court.
Six-time champion Serena eased into Friday’s third round encounter against her sister with a 6-2, 6-2 win over German world No. 101 Carina Witthoeft on the back of 30 winners and 13 aces.
Venus, the 2000 and 2001 champion, made the third round for the 17th time with a 6-4, 7-5 victory over Camila Giorgi of Italy.
Friday’s match will be the earliest the sisters have met at a Slam since the 1998 Australian Open in what was also their first ever clash. It will be their sixth face-off in New York.
“Friday will be incredibly hard,” said Serena before jokingly hitting back at Venus’s claim that when they last met at a Slam in the final of the 2017 Australian Open her sister had an advantage as it was “two against one.”
That was a reference to Serena being in the early stages of pregnancy with her daughter Olympia.
“I guess I had a little advantage but it’s going to be hard for me on Friday,” said 36-year-old Serena.
Since Venus won their first ever clash in Australia, Serena, bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, has built up an advantage over the last two decades, enjoying a 17-12 head-to-head superiority.
“It’s a tough match to have so early in the tournament. We would have liked to have played later but it is what it is. It’s not the end of the world,” added Serena.
Venus, 38, and playing her 80th Slam, notched up her 775th career win by seeing off Giorgi.
However, she was reluctant to discuss Serena when asked to describe the specific challenges.
“You’re beating it up now. Any other questions about anything else?” she barked.
Defending champion and third seed Sloane Stephens also made the third round with a marathon 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Ukraine qualifier Anhelina Kalinina.