Tennis fans across the world were treated to an historical US Open Ladies final in the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York yesterday afternoon.
The “Veteran champion”, 37 year old Serena Williams of America, took on the “NextGen superstar”, 19 year old, Bianca Andreescu of Canada, in what turned out to be one hour and forty minutes of powerful tennis.
Williams, one of the greatest tennis players and the current Open Era record holder with 23 Grand Slam titles to her name, is still chasing the elusive 24th title to equal Margaret Court’s overall record.
Williams started this year’s US Open with an impressive 72 WTA career title wins, compared to Andreescu’s 2.
The players met for the first time, less than a month ago in the Rogers Cup (Canadian Open) final. Andreescu was leading 3-1 in the first set, when a distressed Williams was forced to retire with an upper back injury. Andreescu handled the situation with utmost respect towards the 3-time former champion and gave the tennis world a taste of what to look forward to.
Both were in great form going into yesterday’s final. Andreescu had two tough three-set matches, whilst Williams was only pushed to the limits by fellow American, Caty McNally in the second round.
With her tennis clock ticking, and in typical Big Apple style, the stars turned up hoping to witness Williams bag another title.
Williams boasted a powerhouse box, which included husband and internet entrepreneur, Alexis Ohanian, Oracene Price (Mom), Venus Williams (sister), Patrick Mouratoglou (coach) other family members, Anna Wintour (“Queen” of the Fashion world) and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.
In contrast, the Andreescu box included Nicu and Maria Andreescu (Bianca’s Romanian parents) and Sylvain Bruneau (coach). One notable absentee was her now “celebrity” poodle, Coco, who has been in attendance for most of her matches at this year’s US Open.
Andreescu drew first blood by breaking Williams opening service game and then holding her own. Williams sent out a strong warning during the third game. The players exchanged shots at the net when Williams blasted a winner past her young opponent, much to the delight of the partisan New York crowd.
Andreescu continued to apply pressure, forcing a frustrated Williams to make a string of errors and with her service game failing her, she served a double fault to lose the opening set.
Andreescu continued her dominant form in the second set and soon found herself 5-1 up with a double break.
In the Williams box, Oracene Price could hardly bare to watch, looking away and shaking her head and Venus Williams, head buried in her hands, both I’m sure, praying for divine intervention.
On the other hand, Nicu Andreescu was looking relaxed and Maria Andreescu, as we have come to know her, hiding behind her dark glasses, giving nothing away.
But Williams, whose purple Nike dress was now drenched in sweat, sensed her opponent’s maiden Grand Slam title jitters and somehow clawed her way back to level the set at 5-5. The crowd was on their feet, with husband Ohanian leading the charge.
It was however too little, too late as Andreescu managed to hold serve and then belt a forehand winner past Williams for a 6-3 7-5 victory and with it, become the first Canadian tennis player to win a Grand Slam Singles title.
There were heaps of praise exchanged between the players, both during the on-court presentation and post-match interviews.
Andreescu will arise in New York today with a whole new world awaiting her.
As for Williams, she will need to find the “inner” Serena that has won her twenty three Grand Slam titles and work on that before the Australian Open in January next year.