Serena Williams is a force to be reckoned with—even without the loud applause of an energetic crowd.
The athlete, 38, defeated Maria Sakkari, 6-3, 6-7 (6), 6-3, in the fourth round of the U.S. Open on an almost-empty tennis court. As a result of her victory, Williams is now the first player ever to hold 100 wins at Arthur Ashe Stadium (pretty darn impressive!), with Roger Federer coming in second at 77 wins. The victory also brings her one step closer to landing that 24th Grand Slam Singles title.
While speaking about her match, Williams explained that she always maintains a laser focus during her games—with or without an audience. "I don’t feel like I’m super different without a crowd," Williams said, according to The New York Times, "but I’m super passionate. This is my job. This is what I wake up to do. This is what I train to do 365 days of the year."
Although the court was significantly less packed, the match was just as intense as you'd expect, from Williams's loud shrieks to her excited reactions. She said, "I’m always going to bring that fire and that passion and that Serena to the court."
The athlete added that she felt much "less pressure" during this game because thousands of expectant fans weren't around to watch. However, she definitely missed hearing their applause, since they allowed her to take longer breaks during the match. She added, "The clapping is longer—I could have used a little bit of this in this match."
After her previous loss against Sakkari, Williams compared it to "dating a guy that you know sucks." She explained, "It’s like I have got to get rid of this guy. It just makes no sense." But after her recent victory, she revealed, "I feel this whole tournament I have been doing better with that. Thank God I got rid of that guy. I never want to see him again — he was the worst."
This will be Williams's 53rd time in the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam tournament and her next opponent will be fellow mom and athlete, Tsvetana Pironkova.
We'll be cheering you on, Serena!