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Serena, Bryan brothers advance to French Open finals

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 03: Serena Williams of the United States hits a forehand during the Ladies Singles semi final match against Kiki Bertens of Netherlands on day thirteen of the 2016 French Open at Roland Garros on June 3, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
June 3, 2016 11:43 AM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Serena Williams is once again on the cusp of another milestone, and this one would carry even more weight in the "greatest of all time" discussion.

The American is now just one win away from claiming her 22nd Grand Slam women’s singles title after defeating unseeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens, 7-6(7), 6-4, in the semifinals of the French Open on Friday.

The victory sets up a rematch of the 2015 Wimbledon final against No. 4 seed Garbine Muguruza, who toppled Australia’s Sam Stosur in straight sets. Should the world’s top player, already considered the best of her generation, hoist the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen on Saturday, it would equal Steffi Graf’s record of major titles in the Open era.

Williams (pictured above) has played 22-year-old Muguruza four previous times, all at Grand Slams. The American holds a 3-1 career head-to-head advantage, although the Spaniard did win their only clay-court meeting, shocking Williams as an unseeded player making just her sixth Grand Slam main draw appearance in the second round of the French Open two years ago.

A six-time champion at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, Williams is trying to win at Roland Garros for the third time in four years. The defending champion is vying to become one of only four women to win the French Open four times in the Open era, joining countrywoman Chris Evert (seven), Graf (six) and Justine Henin (four).

Williams, who first tasted victory in the French capital 14 years ago, already holds the distinction of the longest time between a player’s first and last French Open titles. Victory this weekend would extend that mark even further, adding another footnote to her impressive record of longevity and continued dominance.

Now playing her 15th French Open, Williams cruised through her opening two matches with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Magdalena Rybarikova and a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Teliana Pereira. No. 26 seed Kristina Mladenovic pushed her in a 6-4, 7-6 win in the third round before Williams cruised past 18th-seeded Elina Svitolina, 6-1, 6-1, in Round 4.

Yulia Putintseva gave Williams a fright in Thursday’s quarterfinals, but the top seed escaped with a 5-7, 6-4, 6-1 victory, punching her ticket to her 31st career Grand Slam semifinal.

Williams will not be the only American chasing silverware in Paris this weekend. Mike and Bob Bryan booked their place in the men’s doubles final with a 7-5, 6-1 win over No. 9 seeds Lukasz Kubot and Alexander Peya. The Bryans, the most successful doubles team of all time, are bidding to win their first major title since the 2014 US Open.

The No. 5 seeds, who have won 16 men’s doubles titles together including the French Open in 2003 and 2013, will face Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and Marc Lopez (who are not related) in the final.

Ed. Note: Muguruza defeated Serena in the final, 7-5, 6-4, for her first Grand Slam title.

Ed. Note: The Lopezes defeated the Bryans, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3, to win the men's doubles title.