Present at the edge of the court with a bottle in hand, Éric Butorac, the tournament director, had planned to pop the champagne to celebrate the last game of Serena Williams’ career in Cincinnati, but the American decided otherwise. Just beaten by Emma Raducanu (6-4, 6-0), on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday in the first round of the WTA 1000, the 40-year-old player left the stage hastily greeting the public, who had come in droves, before to rush into the bowels of the stadium despite the announcer’s desperate attempt to hold her back to offer a few words to the spectators.
In Toronto last week, Williams, with tears in her eyes, had taken the microphone and said goodbye to the Canadian fans. This time, under the gaze of Grigor Dimitrov, present in his box, as well as Naomi Osaka, the heart was not there. As against Belinda Bencic last Wednesday (6-2, 6-4 defeat), the player with 23 Grand Slam crowns has had an ordeal. Even more humiliating because concluded with a terrible 6-0, the ninth conceded in his career, the first in four years (against Johanna Konta in San Jose).
The match postponed for 24 hours at the request of the Williams clan, diminished
Already world number 1 when her opponent of the day was born, in 2002, the youngest of the Williams sisters deluded herself for a few moments by erasing one of her two late breaks in the middle of the first set and belching one of her famous cries of rage, but the score, flattering, did not reflect the too limited opposition she offered. Kept out of the water for a time thanks to her serve, she exploded in the second set, far too heavy in her movements and unable to resist the exchange.
First scheduled for Monday evening, the duel between Williams and Raducanu had been postponed to the next day, officially “for programming reasons”. It would actually be a request from the clan of the American, embarrassed by knee pain. The extra 24 hours of preparation were not enough to restore him to even correct condition.
“I was tense from the first to the last point of the match because I know what a champion she is and I know she can come back from any situation”
“We all have to salute Serena and her exceptional careerlaunched Raducanu on the microphone just after the game. I am very happy to have had the opportunity to face him and that our paths crossed. (before she hangs up). Everything she has accomplished is a great source of inspiration. I really wanted to share the court with her. »
“The atmosphere tonight was incredible.added the Briton, winner of the US Open 2021, who will have committed only a tiny unforced error of the whole meeting for 14 winning strokes. Even when you encouraged her (she addresses the public), I was like, “Go ahead, keep going!” To be honest, I was tense from the first to the last point of the match because I know what a champion she is and I know she can come back from any situation. I really had to stay focused. I am satisfied that I was able to keep my composure. »
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