The Grand Slam will have to wait.
Two victories from joining the most prestigious club in tennis, Serena Williams ran into a roadblock at the United States Open.
In one of the biggest surprises in tennis history, Roberta Vinci, an unseeded Italian veteran playing in her first Grand Slam semifinal, defeated Williams, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, on Friday.
“It’s an incredible moment for me,” said Vinci, who cried in her chair after the upset and called the victory the “best moment of my life.”
Instead of Williams playing for a Grand Slam in Saturday’s final, it will be an all-Italian affair between Vinci and 26th-seeded Flavia Pennetta, who beat No. 2 Simona Halep, 6-1, 6-3, in another upset earlier Friday. But Pennetta’s victory was no surprise compared with what Vinci engineered on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Williams entered Friday with a 33-match winning streak at Grand Slam tournaments and had not lost at the U.S. Open since the 2011 final.
Pennetta, 33, and Vinci, 32, have each won Grand Slam titles in doubles, but neither had advanced to a Grand Slam singles final until Friday.
Vinci, ranked 43rd, apologized to the crowd afterward for changing the story line.
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“For the American people, for Serena, for the Grand Slam and everything,” she said. “But today is my day. Sorry, guys.”
The last player to complete the Grand Slam by winning all four major singles titles in the same year was Steffi Graf in 1988. Williams had put herself within close range by making great escape after great escape this season, winning the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and her first five matches in Flushing Meadows.
Along the way, she had won 11 three-set matches, shrugging and snarling off early and late challenges, illnesses and other setbacks.
But chasing the Grand Slam is one of the great pressure cookers in sports.
“She lost to the Grand Slam more than anything else,” Martina Navratilova said. “But still Vinci had to finish it.”
Graf has said she felt much more relief than joy when she pulled it off at age 19.
Williams, at 33, was experienced enough to understand just how precious an opportunity this run provided her. Though …Read More