FashionWhat to Expect From Serena Williams and Emma Raducanu’s...

What to Expect From Serena Williams and Emma Raducanu’s Face-Off in Cincinnati

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Since Serena Williams’s announcement in Vogue’s September issue that she will be stepping back from professional tennis imminently—which many understood to mean that this year’s U.S. Open would be her last—the world has been watching the 40-year-old tennis legend’s every move more closely than ever. 

The day after her story was published, Williams played the Canadian Open in Toronto and was given a standing ovation, while ticket sales for the U.S. Open have skyrocketed in the week or so since the announcement was made—and that’s without mentioning the emotional tributes that have poured in from around the world, with sporting figures including Billie Jean King and Lewis Hamilton all voicing their admiration for the tennis star.

But before she steps onto the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium for what may well be the final time, Williams has one final tournament to complete: the Cincinnati Masters, also known as the Western & Southern Open, which kicked off earlier today at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio. (Williams has won the women’s singles title at the competition twice, defeating Ana Ivanovic in 2014 and Simona Halep in 2015.)

All eyes will be on Williams’s first-round match tomorrow, in which she faces off against none other than the defending U.S. Open women’s singles champion Emma Raducanu, the tennis wunderkind who was catapulted to global fame last year. (Taking home the trophy at 18, Raducanu was just one year older than Williams was when she won her first Grand Slam title at the U.S. Open in 1999.) Thanks to this quirk of the draw at Cincinnati, the unseeded Williams and 10th seed Raducanu will go toe-to-toe for the first—and likely the last—time.

Being able to play Williams in the purported final weeks of her career is a challenge that Raducanu is evidently thrilled by. “It will be an exciting match, I’m looking forward to it,” she told reporters during a press conference yesterday ahead of the tournament. “It’s probably going to be my last opportunity to play her unless I draw her in New York, but I think whatever happens it’s just going to be a great memory that I’ll always have.”

The pair will hit the court tomorrow evening at a time that is yet to be confirmed—but keep an eye on your calendars for what will surely be the first of many unmissable matches during Williams’s final weeks on the tour.

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