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US Open show goes on without Serena Williams after legend's exit

For the first time since the US Open began on Monday, the Williams name did not appear on the Flushing Meadows match schedule
Last Updated : 04 September 2022, 04:07 IST
Last Updated : 04 September 2022, 04:07 IST

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With the curtain having come down on the Serena Williams show, the US Open woke up to an empty feeling on Saturday as the tennis world began to adjust to life without the sport's biggest star.

For the first time since the US Open began on Monday, the Williams name did not appear on the Flushing Meadows match schedule.

The buzz that had been off the charts just 12-hours earlier, when Williams lost a three-set battle to Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in what was likely the final singles match of her glittering career, was dialled down to a hum on Saturday as lost-looking fans ambled around the sprawling tennis complex drifting from court to court.

Williams had signalled her intention to retire in a Vogue article in early August, saying she was "evolving away from tennis" and although she never confirmed the US Open as her final event the news sparked a frenzy with fans not willing to miss a chance to see the 23-times Grand Slam singles champion in action one last time.

For almost a week matches featuring Williams, older sister Venus, or both in doubles, provided the focal point of the day around which everything revolved.

Each of Serena's three singles matches attracted record sellout crowds to Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Such was the demand for tickets to the sisters' first doubles match in over four years that the United States Tennis Association made the unprecedented decision to move the opening round contest, a loss to the Czech duo of Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova, to Arthur Ashe Stadium as well.

Those unable to get their hands on tickets have watched in record numbers.

Serena's second round win over world number two Anett Kontaveit pulled in 5 million viewers, making it the most viewed US Open early round telecast ever on ESPN networks.

As the season's final Grand Slam enters its second week the question is who will fill the void.

"Clearly there’s going to be a void, a huge void that’s going to be tough to sort of overcome in the short term," said seven-time Grand Slam winner John McEnroe. "We all know that life goes on and they keep playing.

"Hopefully, eventually, there’s other superstars that come along.

"But at the moment it’s going to be almost impossible, if not impossible, for the moment to be able to fill those shoes."

World number one Iga Swiatek could take centre stage but the New York crowd is more likely to gravitate to 18-year-old Coco Gauff, the American who is set to take the torch from the Williams sisters.

There are plenty of big names remaining in the men's draw with world number one and defending champion Daniil Medvedev and the hugely popular Rafa Nadal.

But it is Australia's unpredictable firebrand Nick Kyrgios who is most likely to grab the spotlight.

Better known for his antics than his play, Kyrgios harnessed some of his immense potential in a run to the Wimbledon final in June, marking him out as a real threat on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts if he is able to maintain his cool.

His form and composure will both be put to the test during a tasty Arthur Ashe clash against Medvedev that is the highlight on the Sunday schedule.

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Published 04 September 2022, 04:07 IST

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