This was the third consecutive three-setter for Williams at the hard-court Top Seed Open. She dropped the opening set of each of the others before coming back to beat Bernarda Pera in the first round, then older sister Venus in the second.
“It’s every kid’s dream when they are growing up watching her play and to be able to do something like that,” said Rogers.
“Weird circumstances. Weird setting. But a win is a win. I know we’re all just happy to be playing.”
Starting after a rain delay of more than two hours, Williams seemed on the way to a much simpler route to victory. She grabbed the opening set and never faced so much as a single break point until serving while trailing 5-4 in the second.
But that’s when things shifted.
Rogers, who is from South Carolina, earned three break points – each one a set point – and converted the third when Williams dumped a forehand into the net.
There were no breaks in the third set, and after Williams took the early lead in the tiebreaker, she was her own undoing with miss after miss, including a long backhand return to end it.
With social-distancing rules in place, the players didn’t meet at the net for the customary post-match handshake. As they headed to their sideline seats, Williams smiled. Rogers simply sat down and quickly shook a fist.
Rogers will next face Jil Teichmann in the semi-finals. Teichmann needed seven match points to reach the first hard-court semifinal of her career with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over CiCi Bellis.
Teichmann served for the victory at 5-3 in the second set and was one point from winning a half-dozen times in that game, but couldn’t convert, and Bellis eventually broke on her fourth chance.
In the next game, though, Teichmann got a seventh opportunity to end things and Bellis put a forehand into the net.
“That,” Teichmann said, “was tough mentally.”
The semi-final on the other side of the draw will be Jennifer Brady against 16-year-old Coco Gauff or No. 8 seed Ons Jabeur. Brady advanced by beating Marie Bouzkova 6-1, 6-2.