Serena Williams enters her ultimate U.S. Open at age 40 — ranked 402.
After flaming out at Wimbledon and in two Open hardcourt tune-ups, the retiring tennis legend out of Compton, Calif., has as a lot an opportunity of dropping within the first spherical as making it to the Open’s ultimate 4.
No ultimate choice has been made however there’s a leaning the USTA will maintain Serena off the opening-night card subsequent Monday at Ashe Stadium and let the retirement drama fold into Tuesday night.
The draw isn’t staged till Thursday, however everybody in tennis is aware of the unseeded Serena has by no means been extra susceptible. Her lengthy quest to tie or break Margaret Courtroom’s all-time document of 24 Grand Slam titles has became a pipe dream.
However as one USTA insider says, “As has been mentioned many instances all through her unparalleled profession, by no means depend out Serena Williams. That also applies in her ultimate match.’’
Are the tennis gods listening? Pete Sampras got here into the 2002 Open 20 years in the past in an enormous droop, gained the title, then retired at 32.
Serena has been caught on 23 Grand Slam titles for practically 5 years — final copping a significant on the 2017 Australian Open. That makes 21 straight Slams by which Williams didn’t maintain up the championship trophy — title-less since motherhood.
Serena’s blazing serve remains to be there, however that’s about all that’s wonderful. Turning 41 in late September, Williams doesn’t transfer across the courtroom effectively sufficient any longer and is flummoxed by change-of-pace opponents.
Serena Williams AP
However Serena will probably be celebrated as probably the most completed ladies’s participant ever regardless of hanging on too lengthy.
At Wimbledon, in breaking a 364-day damage hiatus, Williams was bounced within the first spherical by softballer Concord Tan.
Williams gained her first match in Toronto earlier this month, then promptly misplaced to Belinda Bencic, 6-2, 6-4.
On the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati final week, Serena obtained caught with a nasty attract taking over Britain’s Emma Raducanu, the shock 2021 Open champion. Serena additionally misplaced in straight units, however her famous person aura remains to be evident.
“To play her could also be one of many final alternatives I get to play her,’’ Raducanu mentioned afterward. “You must cherish the second, and also you’re going to have this reminiscence for the remainder of your profession. To be sincere, I used to be similar to in awe.’’
With Williams’ latest unhealthy luck, she’ll draw France’s Caroline Garcia, the most popular participant on the tour who captured the ultimate tuneup in Cincinnati on Sunday over Petra Kvitova.
Garcia, a former top-5 participant, has battled again from accidents and needed to undergo qualifiers in Cincinnati. She gained eight straight matches to provide her three WTA titles this yr and can launch to seventeenth. The blistering server has gained extra WTA matches than anybody since June.
“Now I’m the famous person and the favourite for U.S. Open,’’ Garcia mentioned with a giggle in the course of the post-match interview. “Two months again, I used to be nothing. It’s an excellent match and I’m coming in with numerous confidence.’’
The boys’s draw is in a state of disrepair, largely because of The Large 3’s travails.
Novak Djokovic, who gained Wimbledon, is banned from getting into america as a result of he’s unvaccinated. Roger Federer simply hit the apply courts after knee surgical procedure final winter. And Rafael Nadal is coming off an stomach tear that triggered him to withdraw from the Wimbledon semifinals.
Williams secured her first of many Grand Slam Singles titles on the U.S. Open in 1999.Getty Pictures
Nadal has missed a lot of the Open tune-ups. He resurfaced in Cincinnati final week and was bounced by Borna Coric in his first match, claiming rust and tentativeness.
“The final month and a half haven’t been straightforward, as a result of having a tear on the stomach, you don’t know when [you are] one hundred pc over the factor,’’ Nadal mentioned after his defeat. “That impacts a bit by way of not being positive if you’ll be able to strive your greatest in each serve.’’
Nadal might nonetheless be the favourite since defending Open champion Daniil Medvedev will not be in high type after being banned from Wimbledon — with Russian and Belarusian gamers not being allowed to compete following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — whereas Spanish teenaged star Carlos Alcaraz has cooled off.
“I want to maneuver ahead and simply begin to consider the power that the gang offers me in New York,’’ Nadal mentioned. “I do know it’s a really particular place for me, and I get pleasure from it — unforgettable moments there.’’
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece may very well be a high contender for his first Open title though he misplaced in Sunday’s Western & Southern Open ultimate to Coric, 7-6, 6-2.
However the one Flushing star that issues now could be Serena — so long as she’s nonetheless twinkling within the Queens sky.