(September 12, 2015) A 33-year-old won the US Open on Saturday, but not the woman most people were expecting. In an all-Italian final, 26th seed Flavia Pennetta defeated long-time friend, No. 43 Roberta Vinci 7-6 (4), 6-2 in Flushing Meadows to win her first major tournament – and her last.
Most people were expecting Serena Williams to be raising the trophy to complete winning all four majors in the dame year. Roberts Vinci crashed the Grand Slam party, by knocking out Williams in the semifinals on Saturday in one of the biggest US Open upsets. This stopped the world No. 1’s match winning streak at majors at 33, and halted her attempt to be the first woman since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win Grand Slam.
Pennetta shocked the audience in Arthur Ashe Stadium when she announced during the trophy ceremony, that she’s decided to call it a career.
“There’s one more thing I’d like to say – this is how I say goodbye to tennis,” Pennetta said. “I couldn’t think to finish in a better way.”
“It’s a dream come true,” said the champion. “When I was young, I was always thinking to be No.1 and win a Grand Slam. I also wanted to win Rome, but a Grand Slam is maybe a little better! But it’s a dream come true. It’s also nice to play with a friend of mine. Roberta played unbelievable. She had an incredible week.”
Pennetta clarified in her post-match news conference that she’s retiring at the end of the year and that this was her last US Open.
“I will play until the end of year, but was my last match here in New York,” she said. “I’m supposed to play Wuhan, Beijing. That’s the only two I supposed to play.”
“Winning or lose today, it was nothing going to change. The decision was already there. I think this is the best way that someone have — if I have to dream about how I want to finish, I want to stop playing, this is the perfect way.”
“The past 24 hours I’ve had a lot of things on my mind, and I was a little bit tired, especially in the first set,” Vinci said in her runner-up speech. “But I lost in the finals – I’m really happy, and of course really happy for Flavia.
“It’s tough to play against a player you’ve known for a long time, but I tried to do my best. Flavia just played unbelievable today. It was a great match, and I have to just say congratulations to her.”
At 33, Pennetta is the oldest woman in the Open Era to win a major for the first time, in a contest with Vinci who is 32. For both women, it was their first major final. This marked the first time in women’s tennis that two non-Top 20 seeds played each other in a major final.
In the first set, Pennetta led by a break at 4-2, when Vinci won the next three games to lead 5-4. Both women held their serve and Pennetta took the tie break 7-4. Pennetta rolled up a 4-0 lead, lost her serve for 4-1 and won two out of the next three games to seal the title.
“I mean, the first set was a little bit of drama,” Pennetta said. “Both of us were starting really tight from the beginning. I mean, was not easy to play today with one of your best friends in the tour, with one you know since long time.
“A lot of emotion coming together since yesterday. It’s not easy to handle everything. But I’m really happy, because the first set was really tough.
“In the second one I started to play a little bit better, so I’m really proud of everything this week.”
“Miracles can happen,” Vinci said. “Because I beat Serena, miracle.
“And then two Italian can reach the Grand Slam final, a miracle. Cycle miracle. And, bo…
“One Italian player can win a Grand Slam.”
In attendance at Arthur Ashe Stadium were Pennetta’s fiance – ATP player Fabio Fognini as well as the Italian Prime minister Matteo Renzi.
Players offered their congratulations to Pennetta on Twitter:
@flavia_pennetta congrats I’m so happy you won. You deserved it. I am also happy for the rest of your life’s journey. I will miss your smile
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) September 12, 2015
That smile 😊 so well deserved!!
— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) September 12, 2015
— Kristina Mladenovic (@KikiMladenovic) September 12, 2015
— Sara Errani (@SaraErrani) September 12, 2015
— Gabriela Sabatini (@sabatinigabyok) September 12, 2015
— Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) September 12, 2015
AND what a way to go out @flavia_pennetta!! Enjoy retirement 😘
— Madison Keys (@Madison_Keys) September 12, 2015