Though not a major Grand Slam, all eyes were on the Cincinnati Open. The attention was hot after the tournament draw brought Emma Raducanu and Serena Williams together in the opening round.
Both Raducanu and Williams are Grand Slam champions, though from different generations. The Brit only has one Grand Slam title to the American’s 23. And yet, Raducanu put up a heated fight against Williams in the opening round of the Cincinnati Open.
And, it certainly seemed like a tougher fight than Williams might have been anticipating, as Raducanu won in two straight sets. She knocked the veteran out in just barely over an hour, winning 6-4, 6-0.
Keeping the great Serena Williams at bay
As we mentioned, the two players are from two different generations. Emma Raducanu is only 19 years old and has just begun shining in the tennis arena. Meanwhile, Serena Williams is 40 years old and on the brink of her retirement.
And even though every veteran athlete knows that there will eventually come a time when the young guns will start showing them up, it’s hard to imagine that the fierce Serena Williams thought that would be today.
Throughout the (albeit, short) match Williams never fully seemed to find momentum in her game. Her backhands lacked delivery and many of Raducanu’s points were easy takes. But, that isn’t to say that she did not put up a fight. Her forehand shots delivered and were her strongest asset in the match.
When the 23-time champion was down 4-1 in the first set, Williams was able to take control, bringing the deficit down to two games, ending the set in 6-4. It didn’t seem like a huge difference, and many fans expected her to make a comeback in the second set.
But much to their disappointment, Raducanu rallied even harder the second time around. Throughout the entire second set, the Brit took away any of Williams’ chances of building momentum. Proving that the court was hers, she didn’t let the veteran win a single game, finishing it quickly with a 6-0 set.
In the post-match interview, Raducanu expressed that she was nervous “from the first point to the last point.” But, from anyone else’s perspective, it only looked like confidence.
After the match, the 19-year-old US Open champion expressed her sentiments in getting to play with one of tennis’ biggest names.
What does this mean for Williams’ retirement?
Last week, Serena Williams announced that she would be bidding tennis farewell soon, leading us to believe that this year’s US Open may be her final appearance.
As her swansong from the sport that she has dedicated her entire life to, hopes were high that she might end her career on a high. But, if the Cincinnati Open has shown us anything, it’s that she may be in for more of a challenge than we anticipated.
From 2007 to 2019, Williams never saw a year without at least one Grand Slam finals appearance. But, her last Grand Slam was over five years ago at the 2017 Australian Open and her last finals match was in the 2019 US Open.
With nearly three years since her last finals appearance, it may be a long shot to see Williams in the finals again this year. Not to mention the fierce competition in women’s tennis now.
Depending on how the rest of the Cincinnati Open shakes out, we may have a few names as favorites to win the US Open starting later this month. But one thing is for sure: Serena Williams has her work cut out for her.
And of course, we know that Emma Raducanu will be chasing her second Grand Slam title too.
Is anyone else hoping to see a rematch between these two in New York?