‘She extended my career’

As Serena Williams gets ready to hang up her racquet, everyone has been scrambling to find the right words to describe the impact she has had on the sport and making the futile effort of trying to do her legacy justice.
The fact is, both Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, are two of the most consequential athletes of all time and their influence is simply unquantifiable.
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Speaking to players this past week in New York, you realise there are countless facets to the Serena legacy, beyond the obvious ones.
32-year-old American Madison Brengle credits Serena for forcing a change in the attire rule that now allows players to wear full-length leggings while competing.
Several years ago, Brengle had a procedure to remove a cancerous spot on her leg and now competes in leggings to protect her skin from the sun.
“When Serena wore the catsuit at the French Open that year, she changed the rules for us, allowing us to play in pants. I had Melanoma and I wouldn’t be able to play anymore if I couldn’t wear pants,” Brengle told Eurosport.
“She’s blazed so many trails, all of the trails, but for me personally, the big one is that I can play in pants now. That has extended my career for a couple of years.
“For any reason if you want to cover up, but for me it’s for sun protection, and I wouldn’t be able to play like this if it wasn’t for her. She has done wonderful things for all of us.”
Frances Tiafoe got to spend time with Serena during the off-season and has hit with her on multiple occasions this year.
The 24-year-old wore a Serena ‘GOAT’ (greatest of all time) hoodie to his first round on Tuesday, and gushed over the 23-time major winner in his press conference.
“That's my guy, man. I came out there, I wore the GOAT hoodie when I walked out today. I stayed last night [to watch her first round], I played Hopman Cup with her, spent that time with her, then after that just how genuine she is; giving me two cents all the time,” said Tiafoe.
“How normal she is at the same time, hanging out with her all week, doing dinners with her, stuff like that, seeing her crack jokes, so normal.
“Seeing someone who is a Mount Rushmore person like her, seeing the normality in her was crazy and how she treated everybody with such respect, everything like that; just a true leader.
“Being able to share the court with her, being able to practise with her in the off-season, she's like, ‘Aren't you coming over to the house?’ We have lunch. She's really taken me in. She just wants to see me do well. I seen her in Eastbourne, we had an hour conversation after practice on the court, telling me all kinds of stuff.”

Seal of approval

British singer Seal is a long-time tennis fan and has been turning up at tournaments for many years.
He’s been at the US Open the past couple of days and on Tuesday, he was spotted chatting to Tunisian world No.5 Ons Jabeur.
Seal, who has Nigerian roots, congratulated the Wimbledon finalist on being “an inspiration” for Africa and said he loves the example Jabeur is setting for young kids there.
Seal isn’t the only star to have been spotted in players’ quarters. Colombian pop singer Sebastian Yatra – yes from the ‘Encanto’ soundtrack – was with the Rafael Nadal camp for his night session opener on Tuesday and even attended the Spaniard’s post-match press conference.
Argentinean former world No.3 David Nalbandian – currently the coach of Miomir Kecmanovic – also got to meet Yatra and shared the below photo on social media; so did Paula Badosa, who took a picture with the popular singer following her opening round win over Lesia Tsurenko.

Upset of the day

Talk about making the most of a second chance!
French world No.131 Clara Burel had one foot out the door in the final round of US Open qualifying as she stared down a match point against Misaki Doi before a rain delay intervened. Burel saved the match point when play resumed, and staved off four in total as she eventually claimed a tight victory, 12-10 in a deciding tie-break, over her Japanese opponent.
In her main draw opener on Tuesday, the 21-year-old Burel knocked out Wimbledon champion and No.25 seed Elena Rybakina 6-4 6-4 to make the second round in New York for the first time.
It was Burel’s maiden victory over a top-50 opponent and it earned her a clash with Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck.

Danke, Petko

Former top-10 player Andrea Petkovic was given a heart-warming farewell on Court 7 after she fell to Belinda Bencic in three sets to close the chapter on her professional tennis career.
The popular German admits she had a “devastating” past five days as she tried to come to terms with her decision to retire from the sport, admitting her body was making it difficult for her to continue.
An intellect, a thinker, a comedian, and above all a great tennis player with a supreme work ethic, Petkovic signed off with an emotional press conference, where she eloquently described her journey and her undying love for the game.
“The most important to me, is just the respect for the game and the respect for my opponents. I always felt so grateful to be part of the WTA,” said the soon-to-be 35-year-old, tearing up.
“I always felt so grateful to be part of the WTA, all these amazing players and women that inspired me.
“(Tennis) It's such a competitive environment, but in the most beautiful way, if that makes sense.
“When it comes down to what life is about, it's about emotions and connecting to other people. That's something I always found on the WTA Tour with my colleagues and with my other female counterparts that were doing this really hard thing with me.
“I think that's the thing that I'm most grateful for; just something that I will cherish for the rest of my life, these lessons that I had in being able to be competitive but also having a sisterhood at the same time.”

Tweet of the day

After going 0-5 in Grand Slam main draw openers, 26-year-old qualifier Christopher Eubanks was thrilled to make the second round in New York on Tuesday.

Quotes of the day

“I could say it's a bit of pressure on me, but I am trying not to think about it. Just, I mean, I consider myself not the next. I think I'm No. 4 right now. So, yeah, I'm the kind of player that is in the moment, not the next generation or next player. Just I'm fighting with the best players in the world in the best tournaments.”
-- Carlos Alcaraz on how he feels about being considered the ‘Next Nadal’.
“I can't imagine what she must feel, having this kind of atmosphere around her. People did so much work to show appreciation to what she's done. It's pretty amazing. I have never seen something like it. For sure it was like the most popular first round of a slam ever.”
-- World No.1 Iga Swiatek on Serena Williams’ first round.
“I was ready for tonight. This year I'm kind of the upset girl. I pull out an upset on every slam. I was like, ‘Okay, I did it on the three previous Grand Slams, so why not this one?’”
-- Alize Cornet added Emma Raducanu to her list of champion victims at the Grand Slams this season.
“I think about Jimmy Connors a lot when I hit my backhand.”
-- Danielle Collins, who beat Naomi Osaka on Tuesday night, tells Pam Shriver on court that Connors was her dad’s favourite player and it is why she developed a ferocious backhand – a shot the American legend excelled at.

Stats of the day

  • This US Open is the 91st Grand Slam main draw appearance for Venus Williams. The American has played at least 10 more majors than any other player, men included.
  • When she made her Grand Slam debut at 1997 Roland Garros as a 16-year-old, 58 of the women in this year’s US Open main draw were not born yet.
  • Cornet broke the Open Era record for consecutive Grand Slam appearances by contesting her 63rd major in a row in New York this fortnight.
“I think it shows pretty well the kind of player that I am, the consistency I've had for these 16 years, the discipline I'm having every day since I'm 11,” Cornet said of breaking the record.
“The fact that I'm not injured a lot because I'm strong and also because I'm working a lot in the gym. I spend a lot of time working on my body, doing prevention and stuff. I think it's paying off right now. It's been paying off for my whole career. It's just a proof of my consistency even on the court, the way I'm playing. I'm 100 per cent on every match, every set, every point.
“I'm pretty glad that I'm holding this record. I think I kind of deserve it, so it's a nice feeling.”
  • Rafael Nadal improved his record in Grand Slams this year to 20-0, thanks to his four-set win over Rinky Hijikata on Tuesday. The Spaniard won the titles at the Australian Open and Roland Garros and withdrew ahead of his Wimbledon semi-final due to an abdominal tear.
Speaking of his unblemished record at the majors this year, Nadal said: “I didn't lose a match, but I didn't win all three (Slams), so... In some way, yeah, was even tougher.
“Retiring is, in my opinion, much tougher than to lose. That's the thing, no? The sports is about winning or losing, not about retiring. When you retire, you can't compete. The feeling is much worse than losing a match, no?”
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