CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Venus Williams did her part at the Family Circle Cup, reaching the semifinals with her second victory of the day. Now, she'll wait to see if sister Serena will join her for the first Williams family showdown in four years.
Venus defeated 18-year-old American Madison Keys 6-4, 6-4 a short time after starting a long day of tennis with a three-set victory over Varvara Lepchenko. Serena defeated American Mallory Burdette, 6-4, 6-2 after Venus' second victory Friday.
Serena next faces sixth-seeded Lucie Safarova, looking to make the Williams family four-for-four in the clay-court tournament Friday. Earlier, Serena Williams topped two-time NCAA doubles champion Mallory Burdette, 6-4, 6-2.
Serena is seeking her 13th straight match victory at the Family Circle. If she wins, it will set up the first Williams-vs.-Williams tournament match since 2009 in Qatar. Serena holds a 13-10 lead on Venus, although the two have only played twice on clay with each claiming a victory.
Jelena Jankovic, the 2007 champion here, defeated Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-1 to make the semifinals. Jankovic will take on either second-seeded Caroline Wozniacki or Stefanie Voegele in a quarterfinal match that takes place Friday night.
The sisters were put in the unusual spot of doubling up when a 7 ½-hour rain delay postponed much of Thursday's schedule.
Venus Williiams looked her most comfortable of the week against the power-hitting Keys. Williams had needed a third set to pull out both her previous matches and it looked like it might happen again when Keys was a point away from moving in front 4-1 in the second set.
But Williams was able to rally to win five of the final six games, securing her second semifinal berth in four tournaments this year.
Venus Williams seemed to have her first match under control, ahead 6-2 and 3-0 in the second set. Lapchenko rallied to win seven of the next eight games while a chilly drizzle fell in the middle of the second set and took a 1-0 lead in the decisive set. That's when Williams again found her game and pulled away by winning six of the final seven games.
Venus Williams returned to clay-court action at the 2012 Family Circle after an absence of about two years on the surface. A bout with the autoimmune disease Sjogren's Syndrome kept her from the game for almost six months between the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 Sony Open. She reached the quarterfinals here a year ago, falling to Samantha Stosur to prevent an all-Williams semi that time.
Burdette held her own against Serena Williams, the world's No. 1 player, and was tied at 4-all in the opening set. Burdette had a chance to get to 5-all a few moments later, but Williams won the next three points to close out the set.
Williams screamed loudly and pumped her fist after taking the set.
Williams broke out again when the second set was tied at 2, winning the final four games.
Burdette was proud of her effort against Serena Williams.
"I don't think you ever walk out on the court and say I'm going to beat Serena today," she said. "You just go out there and do your best."