It was not just the defeat of her sister Venus last night that boosted Serena Williams’s hopes of winning the forthcoming US Open.
While she was on court completing a hard fought 3-6 6-3 6-4 victory over her 40 year-old sibling news came through that Flushing Meadows defending champion Bianca Andreescu would not be defending her title.
The Canadian cited Covid concerns and a lack of match fitness – even though she has only played two tournaments since beating Serena in last year’s New York final.
Her withdrawal means that both reigning singles champions will not play – Rafael Nadal being the other – and is just the latest blow to the women’s event, which will also be without World No1 one Ash Barty.
The younger Williams was far from her best as she struggled to see off Venus in the second round of the WTA event in Lexington, Kentucky.
She needed to come back from 2-4 in the final set in what was their 31st and strangest meeting, as there was no crowd. That she managed to play strongly when under pressure should bolster her confidence ahead of New York.