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Serena Williams has qualified for the last 16 of the US Open after a hard-fought victory over fellow American Sloane Stephens.

Williams had a slow start but raised the momentum to win 2-6 6-2 6-2 against 26th seed Stephens in New York.

Williams, aiming for a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles title, will face Maria Sakkari.

Interestingly, the against Sakkari is some kind of redemption match for Serena Williams. Sakkari defeated her in three sets at the Western and Southern Open last week.

Expressing her frustration on the first set, she said: “I played so well in the first set that I was just wishing I could just get a game.

“In that first set, I don’t think she made any errors, honestly. She was playing so clean. I said, ‘I don’t want to lose in straight sets,’” said Williams of her opponent. The American then told herself: “OK, Serena, get yourself a game.”

Williams was happy her biggest fan, her daughter, enjoyed the game. While chatting on the court postgame, the 38-year-old tennis star gushed about her favourite cheerleader, three-year-old daughter Alexis Olympia, who watched the match with dad Alexis Ohanian, Williams’ husband of nearly three years.

“I hope that she saw her mama fighting,” Williams told the media before saying, “Hey, baby,” to her little girl. Williams then joked about whether or not she had her daughter’s full-attention.

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