Seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams reached the WTA Indian Wells semifinals for the first time since 2001 on Thursday by routing Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain 6-3, 6-2.
Despite the windy conditions, Williams improved to 5-2 on the season, which includes a third round win on Monday over sister Serena, who was making her return to the WTA after having a baby.
“You kind of hope for this kind of scoreline, but you never know if you’re actually going to get it,” Williams said.
Williams, who at 37 is the oldest player in the women’s draw, has played sparingly this year but is just beginning to step up her game.
She next faces 20-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina, who cruised to an easy 6-0, 6-2 victory in 58 minutes over the world number 10 Angelique Kerber.
She dominated Suarez Navarro, who became increasingly frustrated and had to call her coach a couple of times to come down to the court in between sets for advice.
“We’ve had a lot of great matches,” Williams said of playing Suarez Navarro. “I was glad that I was able to close it out.”
Williams is back in the semis in the California desert for the first time since pulling out before a semifinal match against Serena in 2001, with an injury.
Williams, who is seeded eighth, will need that experience when she takes the court in the next round against Kasatkina, who has been jackhammering Grand Slam champions for the past year and rolling over top 10 players this week in Indian Wells.
They have played twice before in 2016 with Williams winning at Wimbledon, 7-5, 4-6, 10-8 and Kasatkina winning another tough three setter in Auckland, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3.
Williams said she remembers the Wimbledon contest but couldn’t recall losing to her in New Zealand.
“I only remember one. So I will try to remember the other one at some point,” Williams said.
Kasatkina defeated her second straight top 10 player as she needed less than an h