Heading into Thursday's semifinals, you've heard it has been a long time since American women have filled out all four of those bracket spots at the US Open. As in, it's been 36 years. Just to hit the point home, rackets used to look like these lovelies. Yes, they're now used as retro decor.
Needless to say, people were pretty pumped to see the all-USA quartet Thursday night, considering the 36-year gap and all.
WHAT IS HAPPENING pic.twitter.com/0XJaKc2Qu2
— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) September 7, 2017
OK, you get it. We just wanted to reiterate that it was kind of a big deal. Now, here's what went down.
Some Sloane Stephens facts: age 24; had a miserable boot on her foot after surgery in January that made her not want to leave the house; oh, and she also moved up from 934 to 83 in the rankings upon her return this Open, only to inevitably climb higher to the top 20 before this is all said and done.
How far has Sloane Stephens jumped up the rankings ladder? This chart explains it all. She'll likely be ranked between No. 15 and 17 after the Open.
A new fact that has been freshly added to her Wikipedia page: "She defeated Venus Williams in three sets, reaching her first final in a Grand Slam tournament."
Yes, this happened. We fact-checked it with our own couldn't-look-away eyes. Stephens beat the seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams 6-1, 0-6, 7-5 to reach the US Open final.
Acknowledging the moment in her triumph, Stephens joined the fans in an ovation for Williams and said in her postmatch remarks, "I'm just honored to share the court with her tonight."
She followed it up with, "For American tennis, there's no question mark. The proof is in the pudding, and here we are." She also added that she hopes to make SportsCenter on Friday.
Oh, you will Sloane. You definitely will.
We also would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge Williams' graciousness in defeat, saying Stephens outplayed her. At match end, Chris Evert called Williams "the classiest woman in tennis," and we couldn't agree more.
In the end, we'll just concur with Irina Falconi about how we were feeling while watching this epic match.
— Irina Falconi (@IrinaFalconi) September 8, 2017
Keys to winning Queens
What a match for Madison Keys!
The 22-year-old beats CoCo Vandeweghe 6-1, 6-2 to book her spot in the US Open final with Sloane Stephens. pic.twitter.com/yodpmQ5WIW
— ESPN (@espn) September 8, 2017
Just for a fun fact, the last American woman who wasn't named Serena or Venus to win the Open was Lindsay Davenport back in 1998 -- who just happens to be Keys' coach.
In other news, Garbine Muguruza was named the new No. 1 following Karolina Pliskova's loss to Vandeweghe on Wednesday. She took a moment to recognize her newly minted status with this pic alongside men's No. 1 Rafael Nadal. We're not mad at it. For context, it's the first time the top-ranked players in tennis have hailed from the same country since Serena Williams and Andre Agassi in 2003.
— Garbiñe Muguruza (@GarbiMuguruza) September 7, 2017
Juan Martin del Potro fans still going strong at 12:20 in the morning in the rain outside Arthur Ashe stadium.
As for the other spoiler in South African Kevin Anderson, who downed American Sam Querrey, we just hope his good-luck pup, Lady Katy, is in the stands again Friday. No, seriously, his wife Kelsey is a master in getting the Dachshund-Chihuahua rescue courtside.
Fan-fave Eugenie Bouchard may have had an early Open exit this year, but we can't blame her for sticking around for an extra week when you have all the pluses of the Palace at your disposal.
— Genie Bouchard (@geniebouchard) September 6, 2017
Another beloved player, Petra Kvitova, gave a heartfelt farewell to New York and a shoutout to Venus, whom she lost to in the quarters. Her stranger-than-fiction comeback story is one we want to get residuals on. Rock on, Petra. You're incredible.
Of course that loss hurts, it hurts a lot, but... that's what I dreamed about. To come back and play, compete on big stages against great players like Venus. To prove to myself that I can compete with them! So, at the end of the day I will take positives from this US Open. Thank you to my team, my family, New York City and of course my #teampetra for being here with me ❤
And as for the darling One Direction fan, Andrey Rublev also made a gracious goodbye after being served in straight sets by one of his idols, Nadal. At only 19, he has only begun to write (or sing) "The Story of My Life." Hey, even I know that one.
— Andrey Rublev (@AndreyRublev97) September 7, 2017
For anyone who has happened across the fourth hour of the "Today" show, our favorite day-drinkers, Hoda Kotb and Kathie Lee Gifford, start each morning with a booze-themed tag. Being it's #ThirstdayThursday, they ran around the grounds and may have heavy-poured themselves a Honey Deuce or two after commandeering the bar.
And on that note, happy #FriYAY to all!