Rising teenager Emma Raducanu emerged on the winning side of a generational clash against tennis icon Serena Williams with a 6-4 6-0 win in their first-round encounter at the Cincinnati Open on Tuesday.
After a slow start, the 23-time Grand Slam champion finally gave the supporting crowd something to cheer about when she smashed back-to-back aces to cut Raducanu’s lead to 4-3.
But the reigning English US Open champion fired her own ace to clinch the first set and followed that up with a break of serve to open the second.
Raducanu rolled from there, hitting an unrecoverable serve on match point to end their first career encounter.
“I think we all have to honor Serena and her incredible career,” Raducanu said in an on-court interview.
“I’m so grateful that I got to play with her and that our careers crossed paths. Everything she’s accomplished is so inspiring, and it’s been a real honor to be able to share the pitch with her.”
Williams, 40, was world number one and had already won four major titles when Raducanu was born in November 2002.
Williams won her last major in 2017 while pregnant with her daughter Olympia, who was in attendance.
With the loss, Williams has just one more professional tournament before pulling the curtain on her historic career – the US Open, which begins on August 29.
Exit from Osaka
Earlier in the day, Naomi Osaka’s US Open preparations suffered another setback as the former world number one was swept 6-4 7-5 by China’s Zhang Shuai.
It was only Osaka’s third tournament after an Achilles injury, and it was a strong comeback for the two-time US Open champion, who also retired in the first round in Toronto last week. retiring with lower back pain.
For Zhang, the doubles champion in Cincinnati last year, it was her first singles win at the event since 2014.
“Naomi, she’s amazing, but I don’t know if maybe she’s not feeling really good today,” Zhang said. “But for sure today – not his best today.”
Gauff injured, Venus Williams falls
American teenager Coco Gauff rolled her left ankle late in the first set of her match against qualifier Marie Bouzkova, and she eventually retired from the match as she led 7-5 1-0.
The newly crowned world number one in doubles will be looking to recover ahead of the US Open where she hopes to compete for a maiden Grand Slam title.
This year’s major at Flushing Meadows begins August 29.
Venus Williams was beaten by 14th seed Karolina Pliskova.
Venus Williams was aiming for her first victory against a top-20 ranked opponent since defeating Kiki Bertens in Cincinnati three years ago.