NEW YORK, NY, USA - Standing between 23-time Grand Slam champion and new mom Serena Williams and a ninth US Open final is Anastasija Sevastova, a crafty Latvian who, not too long ago, was out of the sport entirely.

“Anastasija’s story is kind of crazy, too,” says Sevastova's coach and boyfriend Ronald Schmidt in an interview with the New York Times.

Sevastova had quickly become a reliable Top 50 player at the dawn of the 2010s before stepping away from tennis in 2013 citing various illnesses and injuries. Ironically enough, it was her time spent as a coach at the Better Tennis Academy where she met Schmidt and ultimately decided to revive her career two years later.

"Look, it was not my intention to bring her back,” he said. “I never said to her, ‘Let’s try again.’ It had to come from her, and it was important that she was the one who decided it, not anybody else. And she’s been great. She’s working hard and now she’s in the semis.

"It’s crazy to think where we were four years ago.”

Sevastova had modest goals at the start of her comeback - "I was thinking, okay, maybe a couple of years, play top 100. Enjoy the game," was what she said after upsetting defending champion Sloane Stephens - but has ended up better than ever in this second phase of her career, cracking the Top 20 and twice reaching the US Open quarterfinals before going one step further on Tuesday.

"Hopefully she can handle the moment and enjoy the moment,” Schmidt told New York Times reporter Chris Clarey about Thursday night's meeting with Serena. “I told her 10 minutes ago that there really is no difference between a quarterfinal and a semifinal. You don’t get a trophy if you win the quarters or the semis, so it’s pretty much the same situation as against Sloane.”

The two will meet for the first time on Arthur Ashe Stadium, with Williams wary of the challenges Sevastova's unique game presents.

"I've seen her play a lot," the American said after avenging a 2016 semifinal loss to Karolina Pliskova. "She's been playing really well for actually a long time. Obviously I know her game really well. She clearly knows mine. So she's definitely someone that gets a lot of balls back and something I have to be ready for."

Click here to read the complete interview with insight from Schmidt and Sevastova's mother, Diana Golovanova.