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QC native Madison Keys beats Venus Williams, advances

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Rock Island native Madison Keys, 19, beat seven-time major champion Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in the Australian Open.

On Tuesday, January 27, 2015, dozens of fans gathered at the Quad City Tennis Club to watch Keys in her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance.

"It's really cool because she's from here, and it's just really cool to see her making it big," said Lily Schoeck, 14, as she watched the match.

Although she moved to Florida at a young age, Keys still visits the Quad Cities occasionally. In December, she stopped by the club to work out and answer questions from some Junior Academy players.

"As a player, she hits the ball very big. Her serves are huge, ground strokes are huge, she just hits the ball incredibly hard," said Ryan Roeth, director of tennis at QCTC.

Roeth was impressed by both Keys' play and her personality.

"She jumped in our Junior Academy, I actually didn't even have to ask her to. She just came out and started hitting, and half the kids didn't even know she was in the group at the time. She was just such a down-to-earth, normal, 19-year-old kid, you wouldn't think that she was anybody special or playing at the Australian Open," said Roeth.

And her success on the international stage is inspiring a new generation of tennis players in the Quad Cities.

"She's by far my favorite women's tennis player. Yeah, I wish I could be like her," said 10-year-old Logan Howard.

Keys will now play either Venus's sister, top seed Serena Williams, or 2014 runner-up Dominika Cibulkova to try and advance to the finals.

This will be Keys first Grand Slam semifinal ever.

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