Serena Williams

Serena Williams Ties Steffi Graf 22-Major Open-Era Record With Wimbledon Win

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Serena Williams captured her 22nd major championship on Saturday as she was able to defend her Wimbledon title, beating Angelique Kerber in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.

Williams, who has been the No. 1 player in the world for well over the past three years, had been attempting to tie Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 major titles since she won the Wimbledon title in 2015, but a semifinal appearance at the US Open followed by two runner-up performances delayed her efforts. Now that the American has grabbed No. 22, though, she currently sits just two major titles behind the record holder Margaret Court, who won 24 in her career.

“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it. I had a couple of tries this year…but it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it,” said Williams of her 22nd major title.

In a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final in which Kerber won in three sets, the 34-year old Williams looked to be the one to get off to a fast start as she had three break chances in the second game of the match. The German, though, was able to fight each of those off, and actually looked like the more comfortable player on serve from that point on.

That quickly changed in the 12th game, though, as Kerber, the 28-year old who was playing in just her second major final, served to take the set into a tiebreak. Williams was able to crush a few returns when it mattered most, opening up a 15-40 lead which gave her a look at two set points. After missing out on the first, Williams, who hit 39 winners compared to Kerber’s 12, capitalized on the second with an un-returnable backhand to take the set.

The second set was completely dominated by the servers as there was only one break point in the first seven games. Williams, though, has always been able to turn her level of play up a notch or two when she needs to the most, and, just like in the first set, that is what she did in the second.

With Kerber serving at 3-4, Williams fought back from a 40-15 deficit and won four points in a row to break and set up an opportunity to serve for the title. Three unreturned serves later, Williams, who hit 13 aces, found herself at championship point.

A brief rally ensued before Williams was able to come to the net and put away an easy forehand volley for the win. Falling to the court in joy, the American had just placed herself in the record books again as she earned her seventh Wimbledon title.

“It’s an honor to play on Centre Court and a great feeling,” said Williams, who faced just one break point in the match. “This court definitely feels like home.”

SerenaWimbledon20166

Angelique Kerber Prevents All-Williams Sister Wimbledon Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Angelique Kerber of Germany was able to prevent an all-Williams sister final from happening at Wimbledon as she defeated Venus Williams on Thursday, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the final.

“It’s just amazing…to beat Venus in the semis. It’s always tough. I’m so excited to be in the final here,” said Kerber. “I’m just happy to be playing my best and to be in my second grand slam final.”

The match got off to a very unexpected and topsy-turvy start as each of the first five games were breaks, as well as seven of the first eight. It was Kerber, though, who was able to get that crucial extra break and first hold of the match for 4-2, before eventually snatching the first set.

“I don’t know what was the problem. I think we both were returning very well at the beginning of the first set. I mean I was a little bit nervous when I go out there because I was trying to play my best tennis,” said Kerber.

The second set looked like it could be similar to the first as the German was able to break in the opening game, but that was that. The No. 4 seed felt little pressure from that point as she lost just five points in her five service games of the set, setting up a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final in which she was able to defeat the 21-time major champion Serena Williams, who needed just 48 minutes to win her semifinal against Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-0.

“I know that she played long matches, in the first week especially. I was trying to move her. That was the plan,” said Kerber of her strategy against the 36-year old Venus, who made 10 more unforced errors than her opponent.

“I played against a lot of great opponents. I had a lot of tough matches. It’s not easy out there,” said Venus. “There is no such thing as impossible. It’s always possible. That’s what you feel as an athlete.”

Venus did manage to show signs of life halfway through the second set as she was able to fend off three break points while down 1-3 to hold before earning a 0-30 lead on Kerber’s serve in the next game. The German was too good though and managed to hold on, making her eager for another shot at arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time.

“I know she will go out and try everything to beat me right now,” said Kerber of her matchup with Serena which will take place on Saturday at Wimbledon.

Williams Sisters Each One Win Away From Wimbledon Final

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

 

Sisters Serena and Venus Williams both won quarterfinal matches Tuesday at Wimbledon, meaning they are both just one win away from setting up an all-Williams Wimbledon final, the first since 2009.

“I’m so happy we’re both in the semifinals…Obviously, she’s such a tough opponent. I want her to win. But not the final, if I’m there,” said Serena.

Serena, who has won six Wimbledon titles, defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4, while Venus, who has won five Wimbledon titles, defeated Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, 7-6(5), 6-4.

Serena, who is defending the Wimbledon title she won in 2015, got off to a slower start than she would’ve liked on Tuesday as she was unable to work her way into any of Pavlyuchenkova’s service games. The 21-time major champion persisted, though, and stood strong on her serve, allowing her to capitalize on the one weak service game of the set from the Russian. It came at a costly time too, as Serena, who won 90 percent of her first serve points in the match, earned a 0-40 lead at 4-4, converting on the first break chance before holding at love to close out the first set.

The second set was not any easier for the American, though, as Pavlyuchenkova refused to go away. After fighting through a long game on serve to open up the second set, the Russian appeared to have the momentum on her side. Pavlyuchenkova became the aggressor, forcing Serena to work for her service games.

That time of the match was short lived, though, as once again at 4-4, the Russian played a poor service game and Serena capitalized on her first break chance. The break earned the No. 1 player in the world a 5-4 lead, a carbon copy of the first set, before holding comfortably to close out the match and reach her 10th semifinal at Wimbledon.

“I am excited to be able to win and get through, it felt really good,” said Serena. “I am just trying to win my match…one thing I have learned this year is just to focus on the match.”

Venus, who is the oldest player in the Top 200, looked like she would have a tough day at the office from the get go. The American found herself down break point four times total in her first two service games of the match before being broken in her third game, giving Shvedova a 3-2 lead. The seven-time major champion was able to break right back, though, settling things down in the set.

Venus earned a set point on Shvedova’s serve at 5-4, but the Kazakh was able to fight it off and eventually force a tiebreak. Shvedova, the No. 96 player in the world who was playing in her third major quarterfinal, raced out to a 5-2 lead and looked to be in charge. No pressure was felt by Venus, though, as she was able rattle off five points in a row to steal the set.

“She was on fire…somehow I walked out with the set,” said Venus.

Shvedova wasn’t able to bounce back from the disappointment of dropping the first set in a tiebreak, as Venus broke in each of her first three service games, grabbing a 4-1 lead. It was straightforward from there for the American as she closed out the match to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009.

“What a tough day on court…I love playing the game, I always have. The wins and losses all lead to this big moment,” said Venus. “This is an awesome day. I would love to be walking towards the final.”

Serena will take on Elena Vesnina in the semifinals, while Venus have the more difficult task of battling the 2016 Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber on Thursday.

Not only is a potential matchup in the final on their minds. The sisters are playing doubles together at Wimbledon for the first time since 2014 and have reached the quarterfinals as they look to snag their sixth Wimbledon doubles title and 14th major title overall.

 

Garbine Muguruza Claims Maiden Major Beating Serena Williams For French Open Title

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Garbine Muguruza of Spain won her first major title Saturday defeating defending champion and world No. 1 Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4 in the French Open women’s singles final.

The Spaniard, who was the No. 4 seed in the tournament, gave Williams a taste of her own medicine as she was able to completely outhit the 21-time major champion, blasting winner after winner.

Muguruza came into the match on a roll, having won 10 sets in a row and nine of her last 10 matches. The 22-year old, after dropping her first set of her French Open, was able to grow in confidence throughout her run in Paris, beating the 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and the 2010 French Open runner up Sam Stosur along the way, while also losing more than three games only three times in 10 sets, as well as winning two sets at 6-0.

Not only was her recent run of form a reason to feel confident heading into this match, but so was the fact that she had already defeated Williams at the French Open, coming in the second round of the 2014 edition of the tournament.

The confidence of Muguruza carried over into the final and never wavered throughout the match despite how many opportunities she had to crumble under the pressure of playing in just her second major final, the previous coming in 2015 at Wimbledon where she lost to her opponent on Saturday.

Williams, who was the defending French Open champion, started off well, dropping just one point in her first two service games and forcing Muguruza to save two break points in just her second service game of the match. Saving those break points proved to be a turning point for the Spaniard, though, as she was able to break in the next game, eventually holding a 4-2 lead.

Williams, who was seeking her fourth French Open title, was able to break back later in the set, but Muguruza continued to go for her shots and asserted herself on the court, allowing her to break in the 11th game of the first set before fighting off two more break points in the next game to take the one set lead.

That run continued for Muguruza as she was able to break Williams in her first two service games of the second set, allowing the American to win just two points on serve, but those two breaks bookended a run of three consecutive breaks overall, meaning Muguruza only had a one-break advantage to work with.

With Muguruza holding a break lead at 2-1, it was a test of nerves for the rest of the match as the whole tennis world waited to see how long it would be before she would falter. That moment never came, though, as Muguruza only lost a total of four points on serve in her final four service games.

When Williams served to stay in the match at 3-5, Muguruza looked poised to take the title in that game as she had a look at four championship points in a 16-point game, but Williams showed her tenacious spirit that she has become known for, fighting them all off and extending the match.

The feeling was present that Williams would be able to apply pressure on Muguruza as she served for the title, especially after saving those four championship points, but the Spaniard was having none of that as she held at love to win her first major title, sealing the deal with a lob winner that landed on the baseline.

Muguruza, who will now reach a new career high ranking and become the No. 2 player in the world, has proven to the tennis world that she will be a major threat on the WTA Tour for a long time.

This title makes her the third consecutive first time major champion as Flavia Pennetta won the US Open last year and Angelique Kerber won the Australian Open earlier this year, both being first time winners.

Muguruza also tied the record for fewest titles owned when winning her first major title, as she had only won two titles on the WTA Tour coming into this event.

Gritty Serena Williams Continues To Advance At Roland Garros

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Serena Williams was able to fight off a spirited attack from Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic on Saturday at the French Open as she won their third round encounter, 6-4, 7-6(10).

Williams, who has been the No. 1 player in the world for the past 172 weeks, got the match started in a manner that most of her matches go, holding at love and forcing her opponent to stress in her first service game, winning the first six points of the match. Mladenovic, though, was able to fight for the hold and quickly turned the first set in her favor as she became the aggressor and was dominating the majority of the points, bringing the French crowd to life.

“I had not been playing my game. I was playing really defensive. It’s not me,” said Williams.

Mladenovic was able to take Williams to deuce in three of her last four service games in the set, having a look at four break points in that span.

Williams, being the fierce warrior that the tennis world has come to know, fought off all of that pressure and quickly applied it to Mladenovic as she served to stay in the first set at 4-5. Williams raced out to a 0-40 lead in the game, eventually converting on her third break point to close out the set with the only break of the match.

In the second set, Williams carried the momentum and played dominantly as she never fell behind in any of her service games. Playing so freely on her own serve, Williams continuously had looks to break Mladenovic’s serve, seeing nine in total in the set, but was unable to take advantage of any of them and was forced to play an epic tiebreak that lasted 19 minutes.

That tiebreak was put on hold for more than two and a half hours as a massive thunderstorm passed over Paris and delayed all play at Roland Garros. But once the rain had subsided and the courts were prepared for play again, the level of play from Williams and Mladenovic was just as high as it was before the rain came.

Mladenovic, the No. 26 seed, held leads at 3-0 and 5-2 in the tiebreak, but Williams was able to win four points in a row for a 6-5 lead and a match point. Mladenovic was able to save four match points, and had a set point of her own, but in the end, the 21-time major champion was too good and capitalized on her fifth match point to close out the two set win in over two and a half hours.

“I think she played well. I feel like I made a tremendous amount of errors, but I feel like she kind of forced me to,” said Williams, praising Mladenovic’s play.

Williams’ win sees her move into the fourth round of the French Open where only 16 women are left, and she will take on Elina Svitolina, the No. 18 seed.

Angelique Kerber Stuns Serena Williams To Win Australian Open

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Angelique Kerber stunned the tennis world on Saturday in Melbourne as she defeated Serena Williams to win the Australian Open title, 6-4 3-6 6-4. The win gives Kerber her first major title in her first attempt as she became the first German woman to win a major title since Steffi Graf won the French Open in 1999.

The match started off as many would have expected, Williams held at love in the first game and got up 15-30 in Kerber’s first service game. The German quickly calmed down, though, as she won three points in a row to get the hold and then applied her own pressure on return, getting two break chances at 1-1. Kerber only needed the first chance as she broke to go up 2-1, then held for a 3-1 lead. Williams, who is used to being forced to fight from behind, had no issue getting the break back and levelling things at 3-3. Kerber, though, was up to the task again and broke right back to regain her lead, and would hold on to it this time as she closed out the set only losing one point in her last two service games.

The second set was much more straightforward as only one of the nine games played saw the returner get past 30. That one game was the difference though, as Williams had two break chances at 2-1 and took advantage of the second one to go up 3-1. That was all she wrote in the set as Williams would go on to force a decider. Williams’ ability to calm her nerves and focus better after going down a set saw her unforced errors tally drop from 23 in the first to just five in the second, allowing her to get back into the match.

Kerber and Williams exchanged breaks early in the third as both attempted to get out to a lead in the deciding set. Kerber was the one who was able to break and then consolidate later in the set, as she broke to go up 4-2 and held at love for a 5-2 lead, looking as if she was well on her way to the title. The game in which she broke was a 16-point game that lasted more than 11 minutes, and was further proof that Kerber belonged on this stage. It was not to be for Kerber on the first attempt though, as Williams broke the German as she served for the match. With the 21-time grand slam champion getting back on serve in the final set, all the momentum felt as if it was on her side of the net. Despite the momentum shift, Kerber was able to relax on the changeover and regroup, as she would go on to have a championship point as Williams served at 4-5. At advantage-Kerber, Williams sent a volley long, crowing Kerber the 2016 Australian Open champion.

The German was just too good for Williams as she hit only 13 unforced errors in the match, seven of which came in the second set, which she lost. Kerber winning the title in Melbourne this year looked unlikely in the first round as she was down a match point to Misaki Doi in her opening match. If she had lost in the first round, it would have matched her 2015 result at the Australian Open in which she lost her opening round match to Irina-Camelia Begu. That was not the case though, as Kerber fought back from the edge in the first round and would go on to only lose one more set en route to her maiden grand slam title. The win will see her move up to No. 2 in the world rankings, behind only the woman she beat in the final on Saturday.

“On This Day In Tennis History” Book, Ebook, Mobile App Is Now An Audio Book

“On This Day In Tennis History,“ the popular tennis book, ebook and mobile app, is now also available as an audio book. The calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis is now available in audio form via Audible.com and can be purchased here on Amazon.com: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.com/This-Tennis-History-Day-Day/dp/B0178PCQH4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449508067&sr=8-1 The narrator is Tiffany Bobertz, a theatre production veteran graduate of Augustana College and resident of Tempe, Arizona. The audio version is available for sale for $26.21 or $14.95 with an Audible.com membership.

The popular mobile app version of the book is available for $2.99 at www.TennisHistoryApp.com. The app can be found by searching “Tennis History” in the iTunes App Store and Play Store or directly at these two links:

Apple iTunes: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/this-day-in-tennis-history/id647610047

Google Play: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.firstserveapps.thisdayintennis

“On This Day In Tennis History,” compiled by Randy Walker, is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, Don Budge, Maria Sharapova, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. “On This Day In Tennis History” is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

“On This Day In Tennis History” is published by New Chapter Press while the mobile app was designed and developed in conjunction with Miki Singh, founder of www.FirstServeApps.com. Fans can follow the app on social media at Twitter.com/ThisDayInTennis and facebook.com/thisdayintennis.

Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important—and unusual—moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way—dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest—and most quirky—moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”

Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” by Steve Flink, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “The 87 Rules For College” by Jacob Shore and Drew Moffitt, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.

OnThisDay-AudioCover

Behind The Scenes Covering The U.S. Open

by Andrew Eichenholz

 

In the middle of the summer I got a phone call from one of USOpen.org’s managing editors, who controls content production for the US Open’s official website. I never thought that a few months later I would be sitting here writing about how I got to be the last writer to publish a feature on one of my idols, sat front row in the press conference following arguably the greatest upset in the history of tennis and walked away with a wealth of experience that I never dreamt was imaginable when I published my first tennis story a year and a half ago.

Covering a Grand Slam was epitomized for me by Day 12 of the event— my eighth day reporting on the best tennis players in the world.

The impossible was happening— world No. 1 and history-chasing Serena Williams was down in the final set of her semifinal match, just three sets away from winning her fifth consecutive Grand Slam.

That may not mean much to people who do not follow tennis, but only 12 women have won five Grand Slams in their entire career during the Open era (since 1968), forget consecutively. Williams also would have tied Steffi Graf’s overall record of 22 with a victory. I was doing the “match of the day” story, and when arguably the best player ever is going down, that is a pretty big deal.

Generally, we tried to get all match stories out to our audience within ten minutes of the last point. Every single one of us in our office thought that Serena was going to find a way to survive. Her opponent, Roberta Vinci, would later admit that she thought the same. So, not only was it a matter of trying to pump out a quality product in a short amount of time, but both the writer who was covering the match itself and I were basically writing two stories, not knowing who would come out on top until Vinci hit a winner on match point.

At that point, we had a bit of a problem—few fans knew who the unseeded Vinci was and we did not know all that much about her ourselves besides her results and ranking. Who is she? The world wanted to know and our team had to make that happen, so after filing the “match of the day” story, I did some research on my phone as a few of us ran over to the Italian’s press conference so that I could file a quick piece to help people get to know Vinci.

It was a packed house at the presser— the Italian writers were still on cloud nine, shocked that two players from their country would be playing for the title the next day when not one had made the US Open final before.

If it seems like there was a lot of stuff going on at once, think again. Keeping in mind that this whole series of events happened in the span of an hour or two, I also was responsible for wrapping up the junior tournament and American Collegiate Invitational for the day.

The world outside of our office may have frozen in disbelief, but we still had work to do. That was my day every day at the US Open— there was no sitting for one match, writing it up and getting on the train home. There were always tons of things going on at once and I embraced that.

I would not have had it any other way.

My favorite part of covering sports— not just tennis— is writing feature stories. It is nice to sit back and take in a match to tell the reader what happened and why, but there were 256 players in the men’s and women’s singles draws alone at the US Open. Each of them had a unique story.

From a 19-year-old who spent plenty of time during the summer and the Open itself practicing with Roger Federer to a little-known American woman who went without seeing her mother for four years to pursue her dreams, there were so many stories that nobody had touched yet, so why not go for it?

The freedom my editors gave me was one of the nicer parts of working for the tournament’s website compared to a newspaper. I noticed that a lot of print writers spent their entire day focusing on one thing and one thing only, simply because their newspaper did not have enough space for more.

One of the pieces I wrote that got a lot of fan interaction was probably the piece that I turned around the quickest, believe it or not. Victoria Azarenka was the No. 20 seed because of injuries she sustained last season, but for years has been considered a top-five player.

Everybody in the media center at one point or another had done the same story on her competitive spirit shown on and off the court, including myself. But, a couple of days before I filed, I found her agent on the grounds and asked if her practice partner, who is in reality like a second coach, would be willing to talk to me. He never got back to me, so I was about to send my story in, but a couple of hours before her match, the practice partner texted me, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner.

It was well worth the wait, as even though he is a member of her team and is not going to say anything close to bad about her, I got a glimpse into a different side of Azarenka that really made the story unique.

Walking past the likes of Roger Federer and many of the game’s greats every day and talking to them when they were in press was interesting, but not new. I had been a ballperson at the US Open for a number of years; so being around the best of the best was not nerve-wracking.

That came into play one morning at about 9:00 a.m. when I was walking through the grounds toward our office while the juniors were practicing — juniors and lesser known players typically have to take what they can get in terms of practice courts, so they were out and about bright and early. I glanced around just out of curiosity, and saw a former world No. 1 coaching a couple of Russian girls.

I did not think anything of it at the time, but when the team finished our morning meeting, I realized that it would be interesting to catch up with a top player who was forced out of the sport by a back injury for our readers. So, after covering my matches for the day, I walked around the grounds only to find Dinara Safina watching one of her students’ matches.

During a break, I asked if she would not mind chatting for a bit once the match was over, but she was more than happy to catch up then and there. Safina was known as an extremely emotional player on the court, and it was not out of the ordinary to see her visibly angry with herself, as if she was not having any fun whatsoever. Yet, readers seemed to enjoy what she had to say— namely how much she loved tennis and despite being forced out of the sport as a player, would love to stay involved in it in some capacity for the rest of her life.

Perhaps the most completely reported story I wrote and the one that I spent the most time on was a long form painting of Lleyton Hewitt’s career.  Hewitt, who played his final US Open, spent plenty of time atop the world rankings over a decade ago and has become known as the prototypical warrior. Despite many injuries and a physical deficit in terms of size that he faced, Hewitt always seemed to find a way to beat players he should not have. My job was to not simply write about what made him an all-time great, but to talk to people who were or are around him to get insight into what he is like behind the scenes.

To do this, I even reached out to people Hewitt has not played or even spoken to since last millennium to get an authentic idea of what he was like before the Australian reached the top of the world, following his coaches and friends every step of the way until where he is now, laying out his career through the eyes of those around him.

I can go on for days about each and every story, but the one I may remember the most is one that I did not write.

The men’s final was widely anticipated throughout the entire sports world. A colleague and both agreed that we had never, ever been exposed to such an electric atmosphere in our lives. Roger Federer— who has won more Grand Slam titles than anybody— was the underdog against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

There were constant momentum shifts and the crowd responded every single time. Looking around at other press members chuckling as the waves of roars rushed through the chilly night, there was no doubt that something special was happening.

When my colleague and I walked down the stairs to head back to the office for the final time, there was one thing I knew for certain— that special match was the most fitting way to finish what was a more-than-special experience and I will never forget it.

Slam-Seek Suspended – Unseeded Vicci Stops Serena

Roberta Vinci accomplished the biggest upset in tennis history Friday, coming from behind to defeat formerly Grand Slam-destined Serena Williams 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Gracious and commendatory, Williams praised the victor. “I thought she played the best tennis in her career,” Williams said. “You know, she’s 33 and, you know, she’s going for it at a late age. So that’s good for her to keep going for it and playing so well. Actually, I guess it’s inspiring.”

Photo: Chris Nicholson, www.PhotographingTennis.com

Bright Lights – Serena Seeking The Slam

Arthur Ashe Stadium - Opening Night, 2015

The new roof structure couldn’t keep the biggest star from shining into Arthur Ashe Stadium last night, as Serena Williams launched her final leg of pursuing tennis’ first Grand Slam in nearly three decades. She made the first step look easy, dispatching an injured Vitalia Diatchenko 6-0, 2-0, ret. The win is her 29th straight in Grand Slam singles draws, dating back to the first round of the 2014 US Open.

Photo: Chris Nicholson, www.PhotographingTennis.com