EXCHANGE OF THE OPEN: After Billie Jean King said her prayer would be for Serena to win the Open and then go on to win in Australia, Chris Fowler quipped, “I don’t think Billie would mind Serena zooming past Margaret Court’s record.” Chris Evert added, “If Serena wins, that will spur her to play a couple more years.”
CHASING HISTORY: Serena was stuck at 17 Grand Slam wins for three majors before she was able to equal the record of the most Slams won by an American woman, a mark that was shared by Chrissie Evert and Martina Navratilova. She’s now playing in her seventh Slam with 23 titles and with a chance to equal Margaret Court’s all-time record.
THANKS, MARIA? Will Serena fans look back and say thank goodness that in the first round she faced Maria Sharapova? Playing her prime rival (who is also a non-rival) seemed to dial Serena in. Except for losing a set to the zoning, serve-and-volleying 17-year-old Caty McNally, Serena has barely looked back. Her last two matches lasted a measly 115 minutes.
THE COMEBACK KID: Serena has lost three US Open finals. If she wins this year, she will have won the following year after every loss. But teen Bianca Andreescu will probably be a formidable foe.
IT’S HARD TO WATCH THE LIGHT GO OUT ON A STAR: Let’s not panic. Federer came within a point of winning Wimbledon and reached the French Open semis. He has an 18-4 record in Slams this year and a lofty No. 3 ranking. Still, he’s lost all his matches this year that went five sets. He hasn’t reached a US Open final since 2015 and hasn’t lifted a Slam trophy since Melbourne in 2018. Thirty-eight is not 28. But if anyone can defy time, it’s Roger. He told the Swiss press he wouldn’t be surprised if he played until he was 40. Still, analyst Phyllis Greene noted, “It’s hard to watch the light go out on a star.”
A COUPLE OF DREARY DAYS FOR A COUPLE: Has a high-profile tennis love couple ever suffered more devastating back-to-back losses than Gael Monfils and Elina Svitolina? About 27 hours after he fell in five grueling sets to Matteo Berrettini, Elina, who’s No. 5 in the world, was punished by Serena in a 71-minute beatdown.
“I need someone to pinch me right now. Is this, honestly, is this real life? Is this real life?” – Bianca Andreescu
“I would have thought it was a sick joke.” – Serena reflecting on what it would have felt like if she’d been told at 20 that she’d still be playing at 37
“I’m not going to reveal my fashion secrets.” – Serena on what she’ll wear for the final
“She’s like the stern school teacher scolding the children for getting back late to their seats.” – Chris Fowler on an Open ump
MOTHER SERENA: Serena has yet to win a tourney as a mother. Her coach Patrick Mouratoglou recalled, “She was feeling guilty — she was feeling that the baby needed her a lot because a young baby is very weak, and as a mother you feel like you need to be there all the time to protect the baby. Whenever she was not there…she was feeling guilty. I think [in] the first months it was hurting her a lot, because tennis has always been her priority, at least since 2012…And suddenly taking care of the baby becomes a priority, for reasons I understand. Not that it’s not a priority now, but…she feels less guilty about leaving her…because she feels Olympia doesn’t depend as much on her as when she was really small.”
Serena said that the day she gave birth two years ago was “the best day of my life.” But she added, “[Olympia is] a little bit loud and obnoxious right now, so I’m not sure she should come to matches.” Serena noted that every night she reads a story and says a prayer with Olympia. “When I go to bed at 9:00,” says Williams, “I’m exhausted because all day it’s either tennis or my other full-time job, being a mom…Being on court is a little more relaxing than a two-year-old.”
Serena proudly noted that she has been in more finals than any woman currently on tour after being pregnant. She added, “That’s kind of awesome…My day off isn’t a day off. I’m literally hanging out with the baby, I’m doing activities…I don’t want her to forget me. I try to spend as much time with her as I can.
“I’m a full-time mom first, foremost…I train and then rush home. The other day I found a trampoline park…What matters is being there for my daughter…At her age, she’s starting to really learn things. Her brain is processing things more. I want to be a part of that. I don’t want anything else to take that away.”
ACROSS FIVE ERAS: Serena noted that she’s played in five different eras. As for the toughest player she’s faced, she said that would be Venus: “I lost to her the most. She’s won the most Grand Slams in that era…[Justine] Henin and [Kim] Clijsters were great. But then there’s Lindsay [Davenport]…Very tough to play against….[Martina] Hingis was also an incredibly tough opponent to play. The list goes on…”
NEW YORK BEATS FEDERER AGAIN
END LOOKS NEAR FOR FEDERER
WIN OR LOSE, THE END IS FAST APPROACHING FOR SERENA AND FEDERER
AFTER A PAIR OF SWISS MISSES, BENCIC IN SEMIS
‘LIKE A LION,’ NADAL BEATS SCHWARTZMAN
ALL HEART IN A ROUSING FIVE-SET MEN’S QUARTERFINAL
RAGE, SET, MATCH
GO FIGURE: The only players left in the singles draws who have reached a Slam final before are Rafa and Serena…Rafa holds the record as both the youngest and oldest man to reach the semis at all four Slams in a calendar year…If he wins, he’ll have won two of the last three Slams, he’ll be just one major behind Federer, and the GOAT debate will get even more interesting.
JUST WONDERING: American Coco Gauff, 15, and Canadian Bianca Andreescu, 19, have never met on court. But someday, could their potential match-up evolve into the best, long-lasting, cross-border North American rivalry in sports history?
ROGER REFLECTS ON RECORDS: When IT asked Federer to reflect on how important records were to him and which ones were the most important, he said, “Sometimes they’ve definitely motivated me. Sometimes they’ve pushed me. Sometimes they also created so much pressure it was almost not funny.
“I’m complaining now…When you’re trying to go for your fifth Wimbledon, trying to break the all-time Grand Slam record, and Pete is sitting there or Borg’s sitting there, you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, what are they thinking?’
“It’s definitely very special to be playing for these records. Being in my 56th Slam quarterfinal is definitely a nice feeling. That was obviously the initial goal here at this tournament, try to make it so far. I use records at the right times for motivation…I don’t like to think or talk about it…because I want to remember what it was supposed to be when I started.
“Back in the ’80s, people were not talking about records all the time. This is a new phenomenon with social media, with the press…Everybody talks records…especially in this country where numbers are everywhere…It’s helped me…At the same time I always try to remind myself it’s just a side story.”
A MAN OF THE OCEAN: Rafa Nadal was born and still lives on Mallorca. No other tennis champion is as much a man of the ocean. He loves to fish, goes on renewing journeys in the Mediterranean, and his favorite getaway is the Bahamas. But earlier this year there were devastating floods in Mallorca. So Rafa put on his boots, rolled up his sleeves, grabbed a shovel and helped clean up the mud-strewn debris. Now Hurricane Dorian has flattened the Bahamas.
FREEDOM MATTERS: Jo Konta said that a key to her deep run at Slams this year was a newfound sense of freedom. She said and her coaches were encouraging her to play freely and have more self-reliance in her decision making, both on and off court. The Brit added, “It’s an empowering feeling.”
HALL OF FAME NOMINEES: This year’s nominees include Croatian Goran Ivanisević, Spaniards Conchita Martinez and Sergi Bruguera and Swede Jonas Björkman. Now fans can vote at vote.tennisfame.com