The second leg of Serena Williams’ farewell tour was short. Williams, 40, fell 0-2 in matches since announcing the “countdown has begun” of her career, losing 6-4, 6-0 to US Open champion Emma Radukanu at the Western and Southern Open on Tuesday night. Went.
Williams said in a Vogue magazine essay and an Instagram post last week that her career was ending, although she did not explicitly say that the US Open, starting August 29 in New York, would be her last tournament.
The Cincinnati event was Williams’ second U.S. event. There was an open tuneup, and the next time she takes court it will be at Flushing Meadows. She lost in straight sets to Belinda Bencic in Toronto last week. The day before the announcement, Williams defeated Nuria Parijas-Diaz for her first match win since the 2021 French Open.
Williams is a 23-time Grand Slam champion, most recently at the 2017 Australian Open, when she was pregnant with daughter Olympia. She said she wants to expand her family, a big reason she plans to move away.
Raducanu ranked No. 19 in the world, was sharp as she dispatched Williams and quieted the vocally pro-Williams crowd — in 1 hour, 5 minutes.
“I can’t believe I just played Serena Williams,” the 19-year-old Raducanu said. “It’s something that I think I’m fortunate to have been able to do, and for our careers to have crossed when there’s such a big (age) gap and watching her growing up, it was an amazing experience to just playing her.”
Williams did not speak to reporters after the match.
Fans cheered heartily when Williams was introduced and again when she won her first point on a Raducanu error in the second game. Williams yelled in frustration when she double-faulted, screamed even louder, and pumped her fist when she won the third game of the first set.
“I just knew how important every single point was because you let up a little bit; yeah, she’s going to be all over you,” Raducanu said. “She’s just such a legend.”
Down 2-0 in the first set, she fought back within 4-3 and then 5-4, but Raducanu closed the set at love. Raducanu rolled from there, with Williams looking frustrated and resigned near the end.
Williams was sidelined for a year by a torn hamstring suffered last year at Wimbledon, and her late-career injuries have contributed to inconsistency on the court.
The players thrilled the crowd with an exciting rally in the second set’s fifth game, won by Williams with a forehand volley. But she double-faulted on the next point on the way to being broken.
She briskly left the court after the match, waving to the crowd as she exited. “I think that the crowd was pretty electric,” Raducanu said. “The stadium was packed, and even if they were cheering for Serena … I was prepared for that.”
Raducanu, who faces veteran Victoria Azarenka in Wednesday’s second round, has not won a title since her out-of-nowhere triumph at the U.S. Open last year.
In the men’s draw, top-ranked Daniil Medvedev of Russia advanced to the third round, beating 24th-ranked Botic van de Zandschlup 6-4, 7-5.
The tournament lost another big name, Coco Gauff, when she retired from her match against qualifier Marie Bouzkova with a left ankle injury. Gauff had her ankle taped after the first set and dropped out after the first game of the second set.
Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Williams’ older sister, Venus. Bencic fell to Sorana Cirstea, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4.
Rafael Nadal, sidelined since withdrawing from Wimbledon with an abdominal tear, practised before a large crowd. The 22-time Grand Slam champion is scheduled to play Borna Corcic on Wednesday.