It wasn’t predicted to end this way, with Serena Williams still looking for her 24th Grand Slam victory, but Saturday’s US Open final was nothing if not a nail-biting, hard-fought battle.
Pitted against the hard-hitting Bianca Andreescu, who, at her US Open debut, was playing in her first major final, Williams dropped the first set and was way behind in the second before clawing her way back in and serving to force a tiebreaker. It wasn’t in the cards, however, as the 19-year-old Andreescu broke to win, 6-3, 7-5, and became the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam.
Williams will now have to wait until next season to tie Margaret Court’s record, one she’s been chasing since returning to tennis last year after having a baby.
For Andreescu, the win marks the culmination of a meteoric rise through the tennis world.
Andreescu started the season ranked No. 152 and rose to a high of No. 14 in mid-August. If she had any nerves or fear about facing Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium, however, no one could tell.
The last meeting between Williams and the hard-hitting Andreescu came at the Rogers Cup final last month when Williams retired with a back injury, trailing 3-1 in the first set.
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The two played to the exact same score in the first set of Saturday’s meeting after Andreescu broke Williams in the first game and held in the second to put the four-time Olympic gold medalist in an early hole.
Later in the set, leading 4-2, Andreescu reached her fifth break point of the game and made Williams fight for every point just to stay in the game. Williams survived all five before finally getting her first shot at game point and putting it away with a shot to the opposite side of the court, well out of Andreescu’s reach.
With Serena serving to stay in the first set, Andreescu broke her again to take a 6-3 winner into the second set.
Andreescu held to open the second set, then took a 2-0 lead. Williams had the chance to break four times in the third game, and on the fourth had a bit of luck when her shot hit the net before dropping in for the win.
Down 5-1 and in danger of making a quick exit, however, Williams fought back. With Andreescu two points from winning it all, Williams broke, held, then broke again with Andreescu serving for the title. Williams broke again to knot the set at 5-5, but the day ultimately belonged to Andreescu.
Williams has reached the final of Wimbledon twice and the US Open twice since returning to tennis. Her last Grand Slam victory was the 2017 Australian Open while she was pregnant.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.