Williams 0-1 Tomljanovic* (* indicates the next server)
Tomljanović won the toss and chose to receive. Someone smarter than me will have to explain why that’s a good idea. Serena’s service has occasionally faltered here, but it’s not something you want to face when she’s called in.
But in the beginning it is not. Serena misses her first five first serves, and while she wins a point with a cleverly angled drop shot to the net, she faces two breakpoints.
On the first, she gets her second serve, but Tomljanović returns easily and after a short rally, Serena hits one long. An early break for the Croatian-Australian.
As an aside for our Australian readers: Nick Kyrgios faces american JJ Wolf at Louis Armstrong Stadium (second largest after Arthur Ashe) after the aforementioned Andreescu-Garcia match.
Who is Ajla Tomljanovic?
She was born in Croatia, but has transferred her nationality to Australia.
Her top position in singles is in 38th place, in February this year. She is currently 46th.
She has reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon two years in a row.
Her favorite city to visit is… Charlotte, NC, maybe not the biggest tourist destination in the world, but a place where she has some family.
She made her WTA main draw in 2009 and broke the year-end top 100 in 2013.
Her father played handball. (For American readers who don’t follow the Olympics, we mean the kind with nets, not walls.)
Her best tennis memory was her first time on the court with Chris Evert, so it’s a bit of a shame that Evert isn’t in the broadcast booth tonight. Mary Jo Hernandez is up there with John McEnroe and Chris Fowler.
Pre-match pomp and circumstance is coming to an end. Here we go …
Meanwhile, in men’s tennis…
Top seed Daniil Medvedev once again has the dubious honor of trying to follow Serena at Arthur Ashe Stadium, opposite Yibing Wue and reminded me of when I saw Cheap Trick opening in top form to an indifferent Robert Plant.
But like the women’s draw with Serena, the pinnacle of the men’s draw is fellow veteran’s progression Rafael Nadalwho moved today despite hitting himself in the nose.
It’s like women’s tennis took place in an alternate timeline, and Serena followed Spock through a time wormhole or whatever it was that made it possible for Leonard Nimoy to appear in the Star Trek reboot.
None of these players have ever played against Serena.
Not Danka Kovinic, Serena’s first round opponent here. Not Kontaveit. Not Tomljanović, tonight’s opponent.
Not Samsonova or Krunic (first names are at the end of this post), her future fourth-round opponents.
Not her future quarterfinal opponents, fifth seed Our Jabeur and 18th seed VEronika Kudermetovawho have already won their matches in the third round.
Not even top seed Iga wiąteka two-time French Open champion who is less successful on hard courts.
If these players were up-and-coming prodigies with youthful swaggers desensitizing them to the Serena mystique, they might have a better chance. Kontaveit gained confidence for a while, fighting back in the first set to force a tiebreak, then rolling past Serena in the second set, but it always seemed like Serena caught her breath before unleashing the fury in the third.
But with the exception of 21-year-old Świątek, these are experienced players who know they need to be intimidated, and they are, even if Tomljanović has come up with a new way to shut out the crowd that was already irritating her when she hit a few minutes. jobs away.
(This is a home field advantage of a type rarely, if ever, seen in tennis. Occasionally, a handful of people have applauded the opposing team’s service fouls, but for the most part it has been an appreciative crowd—and Serena herself once turning fans off. who grumbled about a line call, an unusual complaint in a tournament whose line calls are assessed electronically.)
The most interesting bracket right now would determine a potential semifinal opponent for Serena. Coco Gauff defeated Madison Keys in a matchup of younger American players inspired by the Williams sisters. Tonight at Louis Armstrong Stadium, US Open Champion 2019 Bianca Andreescu faces a solid player in Caroline Garcia.
Serena still has five more matches to win Margaret Court‘s record of 23 Grand Slam wins, a record in an era when the competition field wasn’t nearly as big as it is today. The streaks are ending and Serena’s may be coming to an end before she gets a chance to play that dream final. But there’s no one in this field to make you think, “Yeah, THAT’s the person who will beat Serena.” Not after watching Williams play Wednesday as a supposed underdog who thoroughly outclasses the world’s number two.
(Those first names: Liudmila Samsonova and Aleksandra Krunic.)
Spare a thought for those in the global sports betting field today.
If you bet on Serena Williams before Monday there is a good chance that you bought your ticket with odds of 50-1. Now she’s in the 14-1 range. And doesn’t THAT seem a bit too skeptical, given the way she’s been walking through these first two rounds?
We have to ask ourselves at this point: who is going to beat her?
Defending champion Emma Raducanu? Out in the first round.
Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina? Also out in the first.
second seed Anett Kontaveit? Lost on Wednesday to someone… oh, right… Serena Williams.
How about two-time champion? Naomi Osaka, like Serena, a player whose recent lack of activity and success belies her prowess? No. Out in the first.
Also eliminated in the second round: Third seed Maria Sakkari and fourth seed Paula Badosa.
All told, only six of the top 11 made it to the round of 32.
Serena is playing tonight Ajla Tomljanovic, the 46th player in the world. Should she win, she will face the winner of a match played all the way on Court 17 between 35th-ranked Samsonova and 96th-ranked Krunic. Bonus points if you know their first names. Reply in the next message. This is already my longest of the week as I am essentially describing a cosmic alignment that has not been seen since the Harmonic Convergence of 1987.
The bad news for Serena is that she and… Venus Williams lost their double opener Thursday night. But that just means more peace of mind for someone of the age where men are starting to buy flashy cars to make up for their receding hairlines and father bodies. (I don’t. I have a sensible car.) She can focus on beating a succession of adversaries whose resumes are comparable to Serena’s, just as much as my book sales are comparable to children’s book authors Dav Pilkey. (Yes, I recently worked in a library and I have sneaker tracks on my back from all the kids stomping to grab the latest Dog Man books.)
Beau will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Merlisa Lawrence Corbett at Venus and Serena’s joint farewell last night.
Serena Williams often says that there would be no she without Venus. So if this was indeed their last tournament together, it’s fitting that they went out in doubles Thursday night the same way they arrived more than two decades ago: as a team – the Williams sisters.
After they officially retire, you’ll find them on the pages of sports, business, health, fitness and fashion magazines. The Williams sisters transcend sports. They have erased records, broken barriers and set precedents to the point that little is left for protégés like Coco Gauff and Naomi Osaka. The chance to become the first black woman to win a grand slam tournament? Away. The first black woman to win Olympic gold in singles and doubles? Away. The first black women to win singles, doubles and mixed doubles grand slam titles? Away. The first black women at number 1? Away.
What remains is a sports legacy unparalleled in its impact and cultural significance. The Williams sisters changed how the game is played and who plays the game. Forty-one years passed between Althea Gibson winning her last grand slam title and Serena winning her first. Today, four black women playing at this year’s US Open have a combined 35 grand slam singles titles.
Venus has five Olympic medals (one silver, four gold), the most won by a tennis player, male or female, in the Open era. Serena is in second place with four gold medals. They are a perfect 14-0 in the grand slam doubles finals. Black women – Serena (23), Venus (seven) and Osaka (four) – have the top three spots on the list of most major titles among active female players. There were more black women in the main draw at the 2022 US Open than there were African Americans in last year’s World Series.
Venus and Serena have so reshaped the tennis landscape that it’s easy to forget what it looked like before they arrived. Women’s tennis matches were rarely played in prime time in the US before Venus and Serena. Billie Jean King fought hard for equal prize money at the majors. But that didn’t happen at all four grand slam events, until Venus and Serena started pulling mega television ratings.