PARIS -- Serena Williams came from behind in the third set Tuesday and advanced to the French Open semifinals for the first time since 2003 when she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

Williams had been beaten the last four times she reached the Roland Garros quarterfinals, most recently in 2010. The 15-time Grand Slam champion, who is ranked No. 1, won her only French Open title in 2002.

Against Kuznetsova, Williams overcame an inconsistent serve, erratic groundstrokes and a 2-love deficit in the final set, winning five consecutive games and then closing the victory with a forehand winner and a scream.

"Yes!" she hollered.

It was the first real test of the tournament for Williams, who lost 10 games after losing a total of 10 games in her four earlier matches. She extended her career-best winning streak to 29 consecutive matches.

In a post-match on-court interview, Williams seemed spent.

"I'm very happy to have won this quarterfinal because the whole night I was afraid of my quarterfinal match," she told the crowd in French. "It was a very tough match today, but it's good for me because, I don't know, but it's very good. I am exhausted."

Williams is the first American woman to reach the French Open semifinals since Jennifer Capriati in 2004. Her opponent Thursday will be 2012 runner-up Sara Errani, who advanced by beating No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-4, 7-6 (6).

Williams is 5-0 against Errani.

In sunny, 65-degree weather on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Williams struggled with her first serve, hit five double-faults and was broken four times. She was indecisive with her shot selection and hesitant with her footwork, even as she built a lead in the first set, and for a long stretch she had trouble keeping the ball in the court.

Williams laughed at herself, screamed at herself, violently shook her racket and cocked it over her head, threatening to fling it before she changed her mind. Finally she turned the tide.

The pivotal game came with Kuznetsova leading 2-love in the final set, when Williams held. She overcame three break points in the 16-point game, finally closing it with a forehand winner as Kuznetsova tumbled to the clay in vain pursuit.

Williams overcame yet another break point to hold and take the lead for good at 3-2. When she smacked a forehand winner to break again, she punctuated the shot with a pirouette and an upper cut, and she was soon accepting congratulations from Kuznetsova at the net.

With the victory, Williams avenged a loss in the 2009 quarterfinals to the Russian, who went on to win the tournament that year.

Since losing in the first round a year ago at Roland Garros, Williams is 72-3, including titles at Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the London Olympics and the season-ending WTA Championships. She's 21-0 this year on clay.

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  • TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-WOMEN

    Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova (L) returns to USA's Serena Williams during their French Tennis Open quarter final match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-WOMEN

    USA's Serena Williams serves to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their French Tennis Open quarter final match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-WOMEN

    Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova (R) reacts after losing a point against USA's Serena Williams during their French Tennis Open quarter final match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 French Open - Day Ten

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Oracene Price (C) watches her daughter Serena Williams of United States of America during her Women's Singles Quarter-Final match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia on day ten of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

  • Serena Williams, of the U.S, reaches for the ball as she plays Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova returns the ball to Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova wipes her face as she plays Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Serena Williams of the U.S. serves against Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova in their quarterfinal match at the French Open tennis tournament, at Roland Garros stadium in Paris, Tuesday June 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Serena Williams, of the U.S, reaches for the ball as she plays Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova reacts as she plays Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Serena Williams, of the U.S, adjusts her hair as she plays Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Serena Williams, of the U.S, reaches for a ball as she plays Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova returns the ball to Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Serena Williams, of the U.S, reacts as she plays Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova returns the ball to Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Serena Williams, of the U.S, returns the ball to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova serves the ball to Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Serena Williams, of the U.S, serves the ball to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova slips on the clay as she plays Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

  • 2013 French Open - Day Ten

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Serena Williams of United States of America plays a forehand during her Women's Singles Quarter-Final match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia on day ten of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

  • 2013 French Open - Day Ten

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Serena Williams of United States of America plays a backihand during her Women's Singles Quarter-Final match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia on day ten of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

  • 2013 French Open - Day Ten

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia plays a forehand during her Women's Singles match against Serena Williams of United States of America on day ten of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • 2013 French Open - Day Ten

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia serves during her Women's Singles match against Serena Williams of United States of America on day ten of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-WOMEN

    USA's Serena Williams serves to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their French Tennis Open quarter final match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • 2013 French Open - Day Ten

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Serena Williams of United States of America plays a forehand during her Women's Singles Quarter-Final match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia on day ten of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

  • Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova returns the ball to Serena Williams, of the U.S, during their quarterfinal match of the French Open tennis tournament at the Roland Garros stadium Tuesday, June 4, 2013 in Paris. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

  • 2013 French Open - Day Ten

    PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 04: Serena Williams of United States of America plays a backhand during her Women's Singles match against Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia on day ten of the French Open at Roland Garros on June 4, 2013 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-WOMEN

    USA's Serena Williams reacts after losing a point against Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their French Tennis Open quarter final match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-WOMEN

    USA's Serena Williams reacts after losing a point against Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their French Tennis Open quarter final match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / PATRICK KOVARIK (Photo credit should read PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)

  • TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-WOMEN

    USA's Serena Williams serves to Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova during their French Tennis Open quarter final match at the Roland Garros stadium in Paris, on June 4, 2013. AFP PHOTO / MIGUEL MEDINA (Photo credit should read MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)