- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

PARIS (AP) - Serena Williams sees something of herself in Timea Bacsinszky, her semifinal opponent at the French Open on Thursday.

The top-ranked Williams is chasing her 20th major title, while Bacsinszky is in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time.

Williams leads her 66-3 in career titles, making twice as much prize money this year as the Swiss player has in her career.

But Williams sees past all of that.

“I think most of all about her is she’s a major fighter. You can have a match point, be up a set, and she’s not going to give up,” said Williams, who overcame strong resistance from Bacsinszky in the quarterfinals at Indian Wells in March.

“I need to come out strong again,” Williams said.

The 33-year-old Williams is looking to win the French Open for the third time. Her other wins were in 2002 and 2013. Although she has been playing Grand Slam tennis since 1998, she joked that she sees herself “continuing to play tennis for 60, 70 years.”

The only bragging rights for Bacsinszky: She has dropped just one set in this tournament, compared to three for Williams - who has come back three times from a set down.

Facing Williams is a daunting prospect for most players, but perhaps not for Bacsinszky, who is used to scrapping for success.

After two injury-plagued seasons, during which her ranking sank to 237th, she left the tennis circuit in 2013 and worked in restaurants, kitchens and bars as she considered a career in hotel management.

Life away from the glamour of the tennis circuit toughened her up - but also made her realize what she was missing out on. She came back last year, losing in the second round at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

“It gives you a lot of humility because there are many people in this world (who) are working in restaurants, hotels, in the kitchen, making our beds in hotels,” said Bacsinszky, who turns 26 on Monday. “Maybe when you’re a tennis player, and you have everything around you which is already given to you and you’re kind of assisted, then you don’t see all the people (who) are working for you.”

The biggest lesson she learned from her time away was to treat people with kindness.

“I get less angry with ball boys or umpires or also the locker room attendants,” she said.

Bacsinszky has already won two titles and nearly half a million dollars in prize money this year - and has passed the $2 million mark in career earnings. Winning the championship at Roland Garros would earn her another 1.8 million euros ($2 million).

It would only make her even more generous.

“Before I was, OK, tipping, but not that much maybe. I didn’t have much money,” she said. “At that time I loved (it) when someone tipped me. That’s why I said now if I can tip, I tip.”

Here’s what else is happening at the French Open on Thursday:

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ANA IVANOVIC VS. LUCIE SAFAROVA

Seven years ago, Ana Ivanovic raised aloft the French Open trophy.

It remains the only Grand Slam title the seventh-seeded Serb has ever won, and she is back in the semifinals of a major tournament for the first time since then when she takes on 13th-seeded Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic.

Safarova plays in only her second Grand Slam semi after advancing that far at Wimbledon last year.

It will be their ninth career meeting, with Safarova enjoying a 5-3 lead - including in the third round here in 2014.

But Ivanovic will remember her run to the title in 2008, when she beat Safarova in the second round.

There is another omen, too.

Ivanovic will again be cheered on by Bastian Schweinsteiger, the Bayern Munich soccer star who helped Germany win the World Cup last year.

Perhaps some of his luck is now rubbing off on Ivanovic.

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AMERICANS IN ACTION

Bob and Mike Bryan play in the men’s doubles semifinals as they seek their 17th Grand Slam title. Mike has a busy day, also teaming with fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the mixed doubles semis.

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