Two top tennis stars knocked out in the US Open
Venus and Serena Williams lost to Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the opening round of the US Open doubles on Thursday night, their first match together in more than four years and 25 years after they made their tournament debut.
The sisters received the prime-time night slot on Arthur Ashe, which is uncommon in doubles, in front of a loving maximum crowd third in four days for Serena that included Billie Jean King, NBA commissioner Adam Silver, and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. Despite playing together clearly enjoying themselves, the duo failed to gain momentum after dropping the very competitive opening set in a tiebreak after 72 minutes. They rallied back to win three of the next four games after falling behind 3-0 and trailing by a break to begin the second set, but it wasn’t enough.
After the match, Hradecka even apologized to the crowd in an on-court interview, recognizing that the outcome wasn’t what the supporters had hoped for. “I’m very sorry for you that we beat them, but we are so delighted that we did,” she stated in reference to the crowd.
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Serena’s final tennis event before she “evolutes” away from the sport is anticipated to be the US Open. Venus playfully referred to her younger sister as “the boss” when she told reporters earlier this week that Serena had the notion to collaborate with her one final time. The team has won three Olympic gold medals and 14 major doubles championships, including two in New York. When they last worked together, they advanced to the third round of the French Open in 2018.
Fans have flocked to see Serena, 40, in her matches and even during practice sessions since she revealed her probable retirement from tennis in a piece published in Vogue last month. She set attendance records at the competition on Monday and Wednesday night with both of her singles matches. Two hours prior to the match on Thursday, thousands of spectators gathered around the practice courts to watch the sisters work out together. Chants of “We love you, Serena!” and “Let’s go, Venus!” could be heard.
Venus has not yet revealed any retirement plans, but at 42 and having dropped to 0-4 since returning from a nearly one-year break, it is apparent that her career is coming to an end. On Tuesday, she lost in the opening round of singles.
Before the two took the court to 2Pac and Dr. Dre’s “California Love,” a video homage displaying their combined achievements on the doubles court was played to introduce them. Up until the very end, it was obvious that the two were excited about getting to play together once more. While maintaining their characteristic intensity and focus, they both appeared at ease with one another, whispering to one another in between each point, frequently consuming the majority of the serve clock during their service games, and exchanging knowing glances, supportive high-fives, and words of encouragement.
The sisters won a 19-stroke point in the first set tiebreaker, which Serena highlighted with three swinging volleys. This was probably the loudest moment of the match. They now led 4-3 as a result, and it quickly became 5-3.
However, Hradecka and Noskova scored the following four points to win the set. The Williams sisters tied the score at four in the second, but the Czech team quickly went up 3-0 and never looked back.
The two hugged after the game was done and then went to the net to congratulate their rivals. Although they declined to take part in a post-game interview, they received a standing ovation as they left the court.
Serena will play Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round on Friday night in an effort to continue her singles run even though the sisters’ dreams for a 15th and final Grand Slam doubles championship are lost. Venus was in the audience when she upset No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 on Wednesday, but she insisted that she wasn’t yet considering a record-tying 24th major.
Serena stated on Wednesday, “I cannot think that far. “I’m here, as I said, and I’m having a good time. Since I’ve played in so many challenging matches recently, I can’t help but feel that it will be extremely challenging to prepare for everyone I play.