Serena Loses To Raducanu In Final Warm-Up Before U.S. Open
In what is likely the penultimate tournament of her great career, Serena Williams bowed out of the Western and Southern Open in her opening round match with a grim performance, emphatically losing 6-4, 6-0 to Emma Raducanu.
After an unwelcome one-day delay, Williams and Raducanu finally arrived on Tuesday evening (local time) with tightly packed crowds lining the grounds and peeking out from the overlooking stadium court to catch a glimpse of the American great before her match. When Williams arrived in the stadium, the audience offered her a standing ovation.
This was a battle of distant generations with 21 years separating 40-year-old Williams from 19-year-old Raducanu. But after a career characterized by countless comebacks, Williams’ one-year absence from the tour after last year’s Wimbledon has so far proved too long for her to regain her best form.
Without expectations or inhibitions, Raducanu played a faultless match. She soaked up Williams’ first strikes, patiently tested her opponent’s shot tolerance in extended rallies and whenever the ball dropped short, attacked without hesitation, exposing Williams’ greatly diminished movement. She ended the match with just a single unforced error along with 14 winners.
In Toronto last week, a day after Williams announced that the countdown to the end of her career had begun, she was defeated in straight sets by Belinda Bencic. After the loss, she remained for a rare loser’s on-court interview and barely held back tears as she said goodbye to Canada.
This time, despite the organizers lining up champagne by the court, there was no ceremony or silver lining. Williams packed her bags and left in a flash, her frustration clear for all to see. She did not attend her post-match press conference afterward.
Only one tournament of Williams’ career remains, and this is far from how she envisioned the end. She will now head to the US Open, and for the madness that awaits her there in her final event, having won just one match in her three singles tournaments back.