This 17-point roundup is about the men and women who put it all on or inside the lines at the rowdiest major event of the season. The hits started early, and they certainly kept coming.
Check out No. 7 here.
"I don't know how to explain my longevity. If I did I would bottle it and sell it. My sister and my family motivate me a lot."
There was Venus Williams: flying solo in the city and across the court, steadfastly making her way to the semifinals and thinking about sister Serena's childbirth before and after a second-week match. Over a near-fortnight in New York, she always gave the tennis establishment and fans the world over something to talk about:
Venus checking out her eye makeup on the changeover. An icon pic.twitter.com/zypo2BN8lu— S.M (@Bouchwanska) September 3, 2017
The US Open celebrated 20 years of Arthur Ashe Stadium this year, and Venus reveled in the opportunity to step out on that stadium court seating more than 23,000 people for five matches. She's gathered two decades of hits—hard hits—in that cavernous bowl, no small feat. For perspective: Whitney Houston sang in Ashe when it was dedicated in 1997, and tragically she's gone now. Shania Twain, 32 years old when Ashe first opened, started the proceedings on court this year.
Venus in 1997 in the US Open semifinals— SB Nation (@SBNation) September 6, 2017
Venus in 2017, reaching the US Open semifinals pic.twitter.com/2OHM0tfk4l
Venus took a third-set tiebreak from Petra Kvitova in an intensely watched quarterfinal match that didn't disappoint, edging out her competitor, against whom she had a 1-5 record going in, and continuing one of the quietly best rivalries in women's tennis.
"No one gives you a Grand Slam," Venus said midway through this tournament. "You have to take it." She knows the trials one goes through to continue in a third decade on this globe-trotting tour, and the moment—12 days of moments—was not lost on her, nor all onlookers.
Venus:"Early '00s I had perfect health, it was great, was fortunate to live that period of my life. Now, I'm content I'm still here" #usopen— Ubitennis (@Ubitennis) September 6, 2017
The more I think about it, the more impressed I am by Venus' journey. Her come back to the Top of the game is one of the most impressive.— PATRICKMOURATOGLOU (@pmouratoglou) September 6, 2017
Then came the Sloane Stephens match. A final 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 scoreline revealed the tension, the nerves, the up-and-down nature of the match fraught with meaning. Ultimately, it was Venus' volleys, normally executed with precise touch or punch, that did her in. They failed her on a few key points.
All credit to Sloane there, but Venus' volleys have really hurt her tonight. #USOpen— Ed McGrogan (@EdMcGrogan) September 8, 2017
No match is decided by just one point, but a particular exchanged happened early in the second set (that Venus won 6-0) that seemed fortuitous: Venus struck one of her best volleys of the night, planting it delicately in the front corner of the service box, and yet Sloane got to it, sending it back with interest—and high, over Venus' head—for a lob winner.
It was the ghost of that fateful 2010 US Open semifinal, when Kim Clijsters delivered an all-but-back-breaking lob on a key point that Venus couldn't reach.
Thus in the end, it was Sloane who took this Grand Slam. Her elder, meanwhile, served this sterling reminder: "Venus showed us what it means to lose and yet somehow remain undefeated."
Follow Jon on Twitter: @jonscott9.