Venus Williams out of US Open; Raducanu loses in 1st Rd, too

The reception and support for Venus Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium wasn’t the same as it was for her sister Serena the night before. Neither was the result.

NEW YORK (AP) – The reception and support for Venus Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday afternoon was not the same as it was for her sister Serena the night before. Neither was the result.

Venus, who turned 42 in June, has made no statements about her future in tennis, unlike her younger sister, and while she has also been successful and influential – a seven-time Grand Slam champion; a black woman in a predominantly white sport – the fanfare and attention are not the same.

Playing in front of thousands of empty blue seats in an arena that was fairly quiet at the beginning, although it later grew louder, Venus was eliminated in the first round of the US Open for the second consecutive year, losing 6-1, 7-6 (5 ) to Alison Van Uytvanck.

“She means so much to women’s tennis. Tennis in general,” said Van Uytvanck. “She’s a legend.”

This was the 23rd trip to Flushing Meadows for Venus, who made it to the finals as a teenager in 1997 and then won the trophy in 2000 and 2001, and her record 91 appearances in a major tournament.

Venus had never lost in the opening round at the US Open until 2020, then she was absent last year.

When asked what motivates her these days, she replied: “Three letters: WIN. That’s it. Very easily.”

On the night, Emma Raducanu became only the third defending US Open champion to lose in the first round, being eliminated 6-3, 6-3 by Alizé Cornet. Raducanu, who was 18 and ranked No. 150 when she won the qualifier title a year ago, was plagued with blisters on her hands – she took medical time out for treatment after the first set – and was beaten by Cornet, a 32-year-old, dubbed from France, who also upset No. 1 Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon.

“Obviously very disappointing. Really sad to leave. It’s probably my favorite tournament. But I mean, in a way (I’m) happy because it’s a blank slate,” said Raducanu. “I will fall down the rankings. (Will) climb my way back up.”

Also playing among the lights was 22-time Major champion Rafael Nadal, who made his first US Open return since 2019, beating 21-year-old Rinky Hijikata 4-6 6-2 6-3 6-3 . Nadal showed no serious ongoing problems with the abdominal muscle tear that forced him out of Wimbledon in July.

Nadal’s victory was followed in Ashe by a match between four-time Grand Slam title winner Naomi Osaka and 2022 Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins.

Venus was completely away from the tour in singles from August 2021 until less than a month ago and is now 0-4 since her return. Her ranking — which was #1 20 years ago — is 1,504 this week.

“It was definitely the longest time I’ve been without tennis and without a racquet in hand. So it was a whole new experience for me to get my hands on a racquet again and try to acclimate as quickly as possible to be ready for the US Open, which wasn’t easy,” she said. “Up definitely play a lot of great points but in the end it’s just rust. There’s nothing you can do about that, except, you know, at some point you won’t be rusty anymore.”

It was Serena who announced to the world on August 9 that she was preparing to retire from her playing career, leaving it unclear exactly when the end would be, although she had hinted it could come at the US Open. Their first round match on Monday therefore fell into the category of a must-see event, drawing a record crowd of more than 29,000 to the tournament site, including more than 23,000 at Ashe – and the atmosphere was exuberant from start to finish and electrifying her 6-3, 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic.

Now Serena, who has won six of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles in New York, will advance to a matchup against No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in Ashe on Wednesday night.

And then she and Venus will team up in doubles on Thursday and team up again this week for the first time since 2018.

When a reporter asked if Venus was considering retirement, she replied, “Right now, I’m just concentrating on doubles.”

So how did this reunion of a pairing that has won 14 Grand Slam titles at this event come about?

“It was Serena’s idea. She’s the boss, so I do as she tells me,” Venus said. “We’ve had some great wins. It would be nice to add more.”

Van Uytvanck now meets Clara Burel, who eliminated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-4, 6-4.

On a wet and windy Day 2 of the hard court tournament, women’s winners also included 2017 champion Sloane Stephens, No.1 Iga Swiatek, No.6 Aryna Sabalenka, No.8 Jessica Pegula, No.9 Garbiñe Muguruza, No.13 , Belinda Bencic – whose opponent Andrea Petkovic said she is retiring from professional tennis – and No. 22 Karolina Pliskova, the 2016 New York runner-up.

Men who rose to the top included 2014 champion Marin Cilic, No.3 Carlos Alcaraz, No.7 Cam Norrie, No.8 Hubert Hurkacz, No.9 Andrey Rublev, No.11 Jannik Sinner, No.15 Marin Cilic, No. 17 Grigor Dimitrov and No. 28 Holger Rune, who meets John Isner next.

Neither Williams participated in the other’s first round singles match; Venus said she saw Serena on TV but was not there in person the next day because of her own early start.

Her mother Oracene and her sister Isha were always in the guest box. On Tuesday, they saw Venus struggle from the start, particularly with her previously feared serve and groundstrokes that weren’t properly calibrated. So many online. So many land long.

After some of her 25 unforced errors, Venus flinched or fiddled with her racquet strings or pulled on the edge of her visor.

Ten of those miscues came with the backhand, vastly outperforming their two winners on that side.

There were half a dozen double faults, only three aces. She faced 12 break points and lost four of her 10 service games.

Just 20 minutes later, Van Uytvanck, a 28-year-old Belgian who sits 43rd and came into the day with a 1-8 career mark at the US Open, led 4-0.

Venus made a small stand, breaking in to open the second set and held for 2-0. But that was her only break in the match and before long Van Uytvanck was repelling a volley winner to end the win.

The night before, Serena was celebrated during a post-game ceremony that included a video tribute by Oprah Winfrey and a lengthy on-pitch interview. After that match, Venus simply slung her red gear bag over her left shoulder, carried her racquet in her right hand, and quickly headed for the dressing room. Venus Williams out of US Open; Raducanu loses in 1st Rd, too

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