The last Grand Slam of the year featured the top 2 women players squaring off against two Italian veterans in the semi-finals. Serena Williams is the best player in WTA right now by a considerable distance. Simona Halep is the best of the rest. These two ladies faced off against Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta respectively. Everybody thought it was a foregone conclusion that the top two seeds would proceed to the final and once there, Serena would complete her calendar year Grand Slam in a coronation ceremony that was expected to be attended by a legion of celebrities and dignitaries.
However, one of the many things sports teaches us is that there is nothing like a foregone conclusion. It’s not over until it is truly over. Many appear to be unaware of this fact though, either willingly or ignorantly. And Friday was a perfect example of how Not to take things for granted.
In the first semi, Pennetta played aggressive tennis as she took out Halep pretty convincingly and reached her first major final after 48 attempts. Her victory wasn’t a huge shock though as she has done well in this slam in the previous years and has a history of upsetting top players. Still a second seed is expected to beat a 33 year old 26th seed.
Before the second semi, I heard one commentator wonder out loud, almost condescendingly, “Can Vinci take one set, let alone two from Serena?!” I admit I didn’t think Serena would be losing to either of the two Italians left in the draw. Even after Vinci surprised everyone and broke the top seed first, Serena just raced through the first set. But the Italian veteran just kept coming back and refused to go away. Her game was on fire as she was able to edge the undisputed queen in the women’s game and end the coronation ceremony before it even began.
A day later, the Italians squared off for in a completely unexpected final. They both had a once in a lifetime opportunity to grab a Grand Slam in singles. They both have major titles to their name in doubles however, so they scenario was not entirely new to either (Vinci in fact has won all four).
But the two are extremely good friends and wasn’t about to let the occasion get in the way of their friendship. They were chatting together till just before the match and resumed their banter almost immediately afterwards. Neither had time for on court screaming, ‘I am gonna kill you, bitch!’ death stares or actually saying out words to that effect. The match may not have been the best exhibition of pure tennis skills but it was a perfect example of how the game should be played; full of variety, strategy and all court play. And once the match ended, they had a long embrace at the net, both genuinely happy for each other. In fact, looking at the two players sitting side by side, talking to each other and laughing, you would think they had won a double title together. If you showed the image to someone who had no idea about the result, he/she would find it hard it to believe one of them is a champion and the other is a runner up.
When there’s always time for banter pic.twitter.com/JuLpdCAszJ
— WTA Reactions (@WTAreactions) September 12, 2015
Flavia Pennetta has a better game and was overall more solid than Roberta Vinci, who appeared more anxious of the two and consequently more error prone. Flavia, the older of the two, hit 28 winners, the last of which came from her forehand side to end the match and triumph as the oldest first time Grand Slam champion on the women’s side.
What happened next was true jaw dropping stuff. In the post-match presentation, after the usual stuff, Flavia said “Just one more thing” and proceeded to announce her retirement from tennis at the end of the year. What a way to go, out with a bang. And what a way to announce it, just epic!!