Bianca Andreescu displayed the same brand of big-serving, big-hitting, in-your-face tennis that Serena Williams usually does.
And now the 19-year-old from Canada is a Grand Slam champion, earning her first such title while preventing Williams from collecting a record-tying 24th.
Andreescu took charge early in the U.S. Open final, going up by a set and two breaks, then held off a late charge by Williams to win 6-3, 7-5 for the championship Saturday night.
“Being able to play on this stage against Serena, a true legend in this sport, is amazing,” said Andreescu, who was appearing in her first major final, while Williams was in her 33rd. “Oh, man, it wasn’t easy at all.”
This is the second year in a row that Williams has lost in the final at Flushing Meadows. This one had none of the controversy of 2018, when she got into an extended argument with the chair umpire while being beaten by Naomi Osaka.
Still trails Court
Williams has now been the runner-up at four of the seven majors she has entered since returning to the tour after having a baby two years ago. The 37-year-old American remains stuck on 23 Grand Slam singles titles, one shy of Margaret Court’s mark for the most in history.
“I’m just so proud that I’m out here and competing at this level. My team has been so supportive through all the ups and downs and downs and downs and downs,” Williams said. “Hopefully, we’ll have some ups soon.”
Andreescu, the first player from Canada to win a major singles title, went up 5-1 in the second set and served for the victory there, even holding a match point at 40-30. But Williams erased that with a forehand return winner off a 105-mph serve.
That launched a four-game run for Williams, who broke Andreescu again to make it 5-all.
“I was just fighting at that point,” said Williams, a six-time U.S. Open champion. “Just trying to stay out there a little bit longer.”
The Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd was overwhelmingly supporting Williams, not surprisingly, and spectators got so loud as she tried to put together a successful comeback that Andreescu covered her ears with her hands after one point.
“I just tried to block everything out,” Andreescu said afterward. “I’m just glad with how I managed, really.”
Suddenly, this was a contest.
Or so it seemed.
Not Williams’ best
But as well as Andreescu handled everything — herself, her far-more-experienced and successful opponent, and even the moment — Williams was far from her best, especially while serving. She got broken for the sixth time in the final game.
This was the largest age gap in a Grand Slam final, and it came almost exactly 20 years to the day since Williams won the U.S. Open for her first major title in 1999, a year before Andreescu was born.
Andreescu is the first woman to win the trophy at Flushing Meadows in her main-draw tournament debut in the Open era, which started in 1968 when professionals were allowed into Grand Slam tournaments. She has participated in only four majors in her brief career.