Venus joins sister Serena in Family Circle quarterfinals

Venus joins sister Serena in Family Circle quarterfinals

CHARLESTON, South Carolina - The Associated Press
Venus joins sister Serena in Family Circle quarterfinals

A semifinal meeting between Venus (pictured) and Serena Williams sisters looms at the Family Circle Cup held in Charleston. REUTERS photo

Venus Williams kept up with sister Serena by winning a third-round match at the Family Circle Cup, moving one step closer to an all-Williams semifinal.

Venus and Serena both reached the quarterfinals of the Family Circle Cup on April 5 with straight-set victories. Venus defeated Anastasia Rodionova 7-5, 6-2 on center court shortly after Serena ousted Marina Erakovic, 6-2, 6-2.

The sisters will meet in a Saturday showdown in the semifinals if both win their quarterfinals, which were scheduled for Friday.

“If we both get to the semifinal,” Venus said, “I guess the best Williams will win.” Most times, that’s been Serena, who holds a 13-10 edge in the family rivalry - although the two haven’t faced each other since Serena took the title at the 2009 WTA Championships in Qatar. Serena holds a 7-5 advantage over her older sister at grand slam events and has won six of the eight times the two have played with a major title on the line.

Serena also wasn’t yet prepping to face the player on tour she knows the best, although she was rooting for the matchup.

“I have to win another match,” Serena said. “I really hope we both get there, so we’ll see.” Serena Williams, ranked 10th in the world, might have the easier time of it. She’ll go up against 2009 Family Circle winner Sabine Lisicki, who stands 13th in the WTA rankings. The last time the two met, Williams won on the way to the Bank of the West title last summer.

“It can only get better,” said Lisicki, the tournament’s sixth seed.

Venus, who is ranked at No. 87, hadn’t played in more than six months until last week’s Sony Ericsson Open due to complications from Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder.

Other winners Thursday included No. 4 seed Vera Zvonereva, No. 9 seed Lucie Safarova and No. 13 Nadia Petrova. Third-seeded Marion Bartoli fell to the 14th seed, Polona Hercog, who overcame a 4-2 deficit in the third set to advance.

Venus, the 2004 champion, has dropped only one set in three matches and has reached the final eight in both tournaments since returning from injury.

Serena won both her matches in straight sets and has gotten stronger since the week began, and that was certainly the case in her first meeting with Erakovic.

Williams said she was more comfortable in her second match on clay.

“So I felt good,” Williams said. “I love the clay.”

It doesn’t always love her back, especially at Roland Garros.

Williams, a 13-time grand slam champion, won her only French Open crown in 2002. She lost in the semifinals the next year, and hasn’t made it past the quarterfinals in five trips since.

Paris is “my favorite city in the world,” Williams said. “I hate leaving there.”