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"I think every athlete, every human and definitely every African-American should be completely grateful and honored", Williams told The Associated Press.

The No. 17 seed defeated Estonia's Kaia Kanepi, 6-0, 4-6, 6-3, to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday afternoon. "She was hitting such big returns so I wanted to hit bigger second serves". Kanepi drilled aggressive winners, looked nearly untouchable off the forehand side despite Serena broke back to 5-3, and managed to win her first set ever against her as Serena missed a return just wide.

Serena Williams overcame Kaia Kanepi in three entertaining and power-packed sets to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open. "It was one or two points that made a huge difference in that second set".

Pliskova had arrived in NY practically unknown except to tennis insiders when she beat Williams in the semifinals at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in 2016.

But first Stephens has to play Sevastova, the same woman she defeated in three sets in the quarterfinals previous year. The 33-year-old Estonian pushed Williams, but the six-time champ relied on her serve - and her nerve - to hold on. In an interview with Time Magazine this month, Serena spoke out in support of Kaepernick who hasn't played in the NFL since end of the 2016 season, the same year he began kneeling during the national anthem in protest of racial inequality.

"(Mertens) beat me two weeks ago so I knew that I had to come here and fight and do my best", Stephens said.

"Maybe third time lucky for me", Sevastova said. "I have a game to beat her".

Kaepernick and Eric Reid, both former San Francisco 49ers who used public attention on games to make symbolic protests, attended the U.S. Open where Williams played on Friday night.

She said she believes new mothers should be more prepared for the fact that it can take time to recover from childbirth.

"It wasn't easy, obviously, I think one thing she did well was change her strategy and started doing just a completely different game and gave me a different look to her game", explained Williams, who laid down 18 aces. "That's super special. I played here at 15 or 16, and I'm still going".

It certainly was. And that chase-down, turn-around, hook-shot of a passing victor showed a glimpse of how the No. 3 Stephens can go from defense to offense with flair, as she did repeatedly during her 6-3, 6-3 victory over No. 15 Elise Mertens of Belgium in the fourth round.