Serena Williams was a ‘game changer’ at the US Open

In 1998, when Serena Williams made her US Open debut, it was typical of many white-faced fans to watch the many white players.

Over the years, she has done more than any other person to make the Queens tournament field a more inclusive environment, with a growing number of women and girls of color, some of whom have played and won in the event. Join the fun every year.

Appearing as the face of tennis, Williams, along with older sister Venus, changed the faces of tennis.

“It’s a great feeling to see,” said Martin Blackman, general manager of player and coach development for the United States Tennis Association. “I attribute that to Serena and Venus. They completely changed the narrative. “

Blackman’s father attended the US Open in Forest Hills, Queens, to see Althea Gibson in the late 1950s and was one of the black fans in attendance, he told his son. When Blackman first went to the US Open 20 years later as a fan, there were more black spectators than her father had ever seen, but now there is nothing like that, thanks in large part to Williams. Blackman later went to the tournament as a player representative in 1999, the year Serena won her first major title at the age of 17.

“At that time I had the privilege of working in the junior high and gradually more and more African American girls and African American boys came to our camps,” she said. “And the common theme was the inspiration and demonstration effect that Serena and Venus provided. This was the tipping point. It was a game changer.”

For a quarter of a century, Serena Williams dominated the US Open, winning six singles titles and reaching four other finals; winning two doubles titles with Venus; and winning the mixed doubles title. He has also repeatedly blown up in spectacular fashion.

For each title, there have been countless players like Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Naomi Osaka, Coco Goff and others whose passion for the game has been fueled by Williams’ fiery and irreverent charisma.

There have been ground-breaking victories, shocking defeats, emotional outbursts, and hours of thrilling, inspiring tennis as it draws to a close. Williams wrote in a Vogue cover story published online Tuesday that she was stepping away from tennis to focus on other things, including raising a family.

“I started playing tennis to win the US Open,” he wrote.

He achieved that goal and more. In an era of sports where American men lied, he carried more of the burden for the nation’s tennis aspirations.

Williams was 16, with beads in her hair, when she played her first US Open match, beating Nicole Pratt and advancing to the third round. But like Serena Williams, she won the title, winning the mixed doubles with Max Mirny.

“Even at that age, you could see his talent and athleticism,” Mirny, 45, recalled. “I noticed that every time he went back to hit the ball, the opponents stood up. They actually supported it. “

Mirny’s father, Nikolai, was responsible for arranging the pair’s two months prior to Wimbledon. She asked Richard Williams, Serena’s father, and within days they won their first tournament. Mirney felt that the only thing that would stop them were the warnings and point penalties that the bench umpires would hand out when the beads fell from Williams’ hair and went on the field.

“I kept saying, ‘We don’t want to lose points because of the beads,'” Mirny recalled. “And he’d just say, ‘Oh, that’s good.’ And that was it.”

But the single title was his mission. Her first major singles title came at the 1999 US Open when she defeated Martina Hingis in the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium to become the first black woman to win a Grand Slam tournament since Gibson, who won five, including the 1957 and 1958 US Opens.

After the victory, he put his hands on his heart and looked like: “Oh my God, I won, oh my God.” Later, she spoke on the phone with President Bill Clinton and his daughter, Chelsea.

In 2001, fans saw the first of the Williams sister’s awkward duels in a major final won by Venus Williams. The following year, Serena Williams received rematches at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open.

It would be six years before she defeated Jelena Jankovic for the 2008 US Open title, followed by an on-court implosion in 2009 that abruptly ended her semi-final match against Kim Clijsters. Williams was called for a foot fault that set up match point, then hit a line lady. Williams was adjudged a point, giving the match to a stunned Clijsters, who won the tournament.

Williams has won three consecutive titles since 2012; In 2015, he entered New York unmatched. He had won three previous majors that year, and a fourth would have given him the coveted Grand Slam. But the pressure proved too much and she was upset in the semi-finals by absent Italian Roberta Vinci.

Her 2018 Open final, against Osaka, was marred by a long and intermittent dispute between Williams and bench umpire Carlos Ramos, who initially caused an uproar over Williams’ code violation as the coach flagged her out of the seats. The argument resulted in two changes, and as a result he lost the game and his focus, which allowed Osaka to claim his first major title amid a cascade of flourishes and jokes.

The audience was and still is on Williams’ side. On Tuesday, after news broke that Williams was retiring, 13,000 tickets had been sold by 3 p.m., the USTA said. As has been the case for years, fans will once again flock to the US Open as Serena, along with Venus, has made Flushing one of the premier venues in the country to see the famous, groundbreaking black hero in person.

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