Serena Williams will bow out of tennis’ biggest stage in Rinse the meadows but the U.S. Open is unlikely to provide a fairy tale finish to one of the sport’s most compelling figures.
Tennis has been preparing for this moment for some time, watching Williams grow from champion to mother, wife, entrepreneur and finally part-time tennis, but in some ways her decision seemed to catch everyone off guard. Even Williams herself.
Williams signaled her intention to retire in a Vogue article in early August, saying she was “getting away from tennis”, but never confirming the US Open as her final event.
The tennis world, however, is planning a massive retirement party at Flushing Meadows.
There certainly couldn’t be a more fitting place to pull the curtain back on one of tennis’ great careers in a city that’s been in its corner from the very start, fueling the US Open’s six-crown races.
This is where Williams won the first of 23 singles Grand Slam titles in 1999 and if Hollywood wrote the script, it would also be where she would win her last, an elusive 24th major that would put her level with Margaret Court at the top of the all-time list.
But even the most hardcore Williams supporters will find it hard to believe the 40-year-old can conjure up that kind of magic.
“Emotions can only take you this far, I don’t see a Cinderella happy ending where she wins the tournament,” Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles and the world’s top female player, told Reuters. 332 weeks.
“From the looks of it, it doesn’t look like she’s going to make a miraculous comeback and win the tournament.”
As the farewell tours went on, Williams’s was more melancholic than joyous.
World number one for 319 weeks, Williams will arrive at the US Open ranked below 600 and unranked.
She now plays sporadically, only appearing in three events this season. Indeed, since her defeat in the round of 16 at Roland Garros in June 2021, she has won only one match.
She will arrive in Flushing Meadows on the back of a humiliating 6-4, 6-0 in Cincinnati by British teenager and US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
It didn’t go over well with the American, with the grim-faced Williams leaving center court with barely a wave to an adoring audience who had cheered her on throughout.
As long as Williams stays in the draw, the spotlight won’t fade until she exits or compelling contenders emerge in what is considered the most open tournament in years.
One of the players to benefit from the Williams hysteria will be Raducanu, who captivated tennis fans last year with her Cinderella run from qualification to Grand Slam champion.
Without a title since winning the US Open, the 19-year-old has come under intense scrutiny and she will no doubt be happy that Williams monopolizes all the limelight as she embarks on the defense of his title.
World number one Iga Swiatek, winner of six tournaments this season, is favorite but the Pole has seen a dramatic decline in form since winning the French Open trophy in June. She worked on North American hard courts, winning just one game in each of her two tune-ups at Flushing Meadows in Toronto and Cincinnati.
Two-time US Open champion Naomi Osaka cannot be overlooked, but struggled with fitness after suffering an Achilles injury at Wimbledon and also failed to find success on the hard courts. Romanian Simona Halepwinner in Toronto, had seemed a good bet but was forced to withdraw from Cincinnati in the second round with a pulled thigh leaving his US Open appearance in question.
The in-form player ahead of the Grand Slam final of the year is France’s Caroline Garcia, who emerged from the shadows in spectacular style as the first qualifier to win a WTA 1000 event. She knocked out three of the top 10 opponents en route to winning the Cincinnati Open.

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