Serena Williams will learn Wednesday if she is seeded at Wimbledon, while a top U.S. Open official is already reportedly saying its seeds will be revised if a return from pregnancy comes into play, though not naming Williams specifically.
The U.S. Open, the fourth and final Grand Slam tournament of the year in September, would “revise the seedings if pregnancy is a factor in the current rankings of a player,” USTA president and chairwoman Katrina Adams said, according to The New York Times.
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, was not given one of 32 seeds at the French Open in May, her first Grand Slam since coming back from having daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on Sept. 1.
Her ranking had fallen to No. 453 due to maternity leave. She could enter the major tournament due to the WTA’s protected ranking rule, but it was up to Grand Slam organizers whether to give her a seed.
Williams reached the semifinals of her last eight U.S. Opens, missing the New York event in 2010 and 2017. She has won it six times. Her current ranking is No. 183.
If Williams neither makes a deep Wimbledon run nor plays plenty of summer hard-court matches, it’s likely the U.S. Open will have to decide whether to give her a seed. It sounds like organizers are prepared to.
“It’s the right thing to do for these mothers that are coming back,” Adams said, according to the report, adding that players should not be “penalized” for starting a family.
Williams reached the fourth round of the French Open in her first Grand Slam since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant (but before the world learned). She withdrew before a round of 16 showdown with Maria Sharapova due to a pectoral muscle injury and has not played in a tournament since.
NEW YORK (AP) — Rafael Nadal against Kevin Anderson in the U.S. Open final shaped up as quite a mismatch — and that’s exactly what it was.
His game at a high level at the end of an unusually easy path through a Grand Slam field, Nadal overwhelmed first-time major finalist Anderson 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday to win his third championship at Flushing Meadows.
It is the No. 1-ranked Nadal’s second Grand Slam title of the year and 16th overall. Among men, only longtime rival Roger Federer has more, with 19.
At No. 32, Anderson was the lowest-ranked U.S. Open men’s finalist since the ATP computer rankings began in 1973. The 31-year-old South African never had been past the quarterfinals at any major tournament in 33 previous appearances, so when he won his semifinal on Friday, he climbed into the stands to celebrate.
There would be no such joy for him on this day. Nadal simply dominated every facet of the 2½-hour final.
Nadal added to his U.S. Open triumphs in 2010 and 2013 and improved to 16-7 in Grand Slam finals. For the first time since 2013, he appeared in three in a single season, losing to Federer at the Australian Open in January, then beating Stan Wawrinka for his record 10th French Open trophy in June.
Nadal’s career haul also includes two trophies from Wimbledon and one from the Australian Open. All of his big victories have come while being coached by his uncle, Toni, who is now stepping aside. The U.S. Open was the last Grand Slam event of their partnership.
Not since Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2000 had a man won a Slam tournament without facing any opponents ranked in the top 20.
In New York this time, the bracket was weakened by the injury withdrawals of three of the top five men: past champions Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Wawrinka.
Plus, Nadal did not need to deal with Federer: The potential for a semifinal, which would have been their first U.S. Open meeting, was dashed when Juan Martin del Potro eliminated Federer in the quarterfinals. Nadal then beat del Potro, the 2009 champion but now ranked 28th, in the semis.
Much like Nadal’s 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 win against Wawrinka at Roland Garros, the only beauty of this match was not in its competitiveness — not by a long shot — but in an appreciation for one participant’s absolute superiority.
Forehands whipped up the line. Two-handed backhands ripped cross-court with ferocity. The spinning, back-to-the-net returns of serves that darted in at him at more than 130 mph (210 kph) and helped him break Anderson four times.
He even came up with some terrific volleys, winning the point on all 16 of his trips to the net. Anderson, meanwhile, finished 16 for 34 in that category. Another difference-maker: Nadal never faced a break point, although that was more a reflection of his talent once the ball was in play than any particularly dominant serving.
With Nadal standing way back to receive serves, nearly backing into the line judges, he neutralized Anderson’s most effective skill. Anderson came in having won 103 of 108 service games across six matches, but Nadal accumulated break points at will from the get-go — two in a six-deuce game at 1-all, another two in a five-deuce game at 2-all.
Anderson began trying to end points quickly with a volley. Two problems with that: Anderson is not usually a serve-and-volleyer and so is no expert at that tactic; Nadal is superb at summoning passing shots at extreme speeds and angles, especially when facing the sort of target provided by the 6-foot-8 (2.03-meter) Anderson, the tallest Grand Slam finalist in history.
It was only a matter of time until Nadal capitalized on a chance. Anderson let him do just that at 3-all, 30-all, double-faulting to offer up Nadal’s fifth break point of the match, then badly pushing a cross-court forehand wide.
That only made the score 4-3, but the statistics until then were telling: Anderson had 21 unforced errors, Nadal just four. A pattern had been established. When Nadal broke to lead 4-2 in the second set, that was pretty much that.
As the 2017 Grand Slam season wrapped up, it marked a return to the heights of their sport for Nadal and Federer: Each won two of the four major titles.
Not only didn’t Nadal win one in 2015 or 2016 — his first such shutouts since 2004, when he was still a teenager — but he didn’t even make it to a major final in that span. Seems safe to say that, at age 31, he is once again the Nadal of old.
NEW YORK — For a decade, tennis fans have asked who will succeed Venus and Serena Williams as the next U.S. champion. Sloane Stephens answered the last two weeks at the U.S. Open and emphatically so on Saturday.
Stephens was near flawless in her first Grand Slam final, dancing around countrywoman and friend Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“Did you see that check that lady handed me?” Stephens said later in the press room. “Man, if that doesn’t make you want to play tennis, I don’t know what will.”
Not bad after missing 10 months due to a foot injury. The Jan. 23 surgery — and following four months unable to walk — was still in Stephens’ mind during her trophy acceptance speech.
“If someone told me then that I’d win the U.S. Open, it’s impossible,” she said. “I should just retire now. I told Maddie [Keys], I’m never going to be able to top this.”
Stephens, a 24-year-old daughter of a Pro Bowl running back and All-America swimmer, became the 12th U.S. woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era since 1968. And the first other than the Williams sisters in nearly 16 years.
A U.S. man hasn’t won a Grand Slam singles title in 14 years, by far the longest drought in history.
Arguably the fastest woman on tour, Stephens was the cleaner player Saturday afternoon, just as she was against Venus Williams in Thursday’s semifinals.
She didn’t make an unforced error until the ninth game. The power-serving Keys had committed 13 by then. Stephens had only six for the match versus 30 for Keys.
“I made six unforced errors in the whole match?” she retorted to a reporter, beaming. “Shut the front door.”
Stephens’ pre-match strategy worked.
“I literally was looking at car reviews last night on Auto Trader,” she said. “That’s how bored I was.”
A Grand Slam tennis season that began with Venus and Serena meeting in their first major final in more than seven years ended with Stephens and Keys, 22, showcasing what could be the near future of American tennis.
Serena, 35, has been out since winning the Australian Open in January due to pregnancy. She gave birth Sept. 1 to a girl and hopes to return to defend her title in Melbourne and match Margaret Court‘s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.
Venus, 37, won more Grand Slam singles matches than any woman this year, making two finals and a semifinal here. It was her best season in the better part of a decade, but how much does she have left?
While Venus and Serena marched toward each other at that Australian Open, Stephens and Keys spent January at home texting each other. Stephens said if she could face any player in the U.S. Open final, it would be Keys.
“I told her [after the match] I wish there could be a draw because I wished we could have both won,” Stephens said.
The former No. 11 player Stephens came back from surgery July 4 and didn’t win a match until Aug. 7. Her ranking fell to No. 957 in early August because of the missed time.
On Monday, she’ll be No. 17 and the fourth-highest-ranked American (Serena is fifth at No. 22). A big change from 2010, when Venus and Serena were the only Americans to finish the year ranked in the top 57.
“If you told me as I was getting on a plane to go have my second surgery that I could have a Grand Slam finalist trophy in my hands at the end of the year, I think I’d be really happy,” she said, adding that she’s been invited to Stephens’ celebration (and joked she wants her drinks paid for). “Today came down to nerves and all of that, and I just don’t think I handled the occasion perfectly.”
Both players fulfilled promise in the last few years by reaching the Australian Open semifinals — Stephens by bouncing Serena Williams in 2013 and Keys overcoming Venus Williams in 2015.
But given each player’s injury setbacks, neither was expected to challenge deep into the second week in New York. Stephens lost in the first round at Wimbledon. Keys was bounced in the second round of the French Open and Wimbledon.
Stephens had no words after match point. Not even a scream. She just covered her mouth. She had plenty to say on court about 20 minutes later, punctuated by this story:
“When I was 11 years old, my mom took me to a tennis academy,” Stephens said on court, with her mother, Sybil Smith, looking on from the crowd. “One of the directors there told my mom that I’d be lucky if I was a Division II player and I got a scholarship. I think any parent that ever supports their child, you can be me one day. So parents, never give up on your kids. If they want to do something, always encourage them.”
U.S. women to win Grand Slam singles titles (Open Era since 1968)
Billie Jean King (12 total, including pre-Open Era) Nancy Richey (2) Chris Evert (18) Barbara Jordan (1) Martina Navratilova (18) Tracy Austin (2) Monica Seles (9, with 8 coming while she competed for Yugoslavia) Lindsay Davenport (3) Serena Williams (23) Venus Williams (7) Jennifer Capriati (3) Sloane Stephens (1)