Emma Raducanu has become the first person to ‘bagel’ tennis icon Serena Williams since her compatriot, Johanna Konta, in 2018. The Brit powered past her American opponent at the Cincinnati Open and won the second set 6-0, blitzing soon-to-retire Williams in rare fashion.
Williams had the benefit of raucous home support as they roared her on with just weeks left until she is expected to retire. The 40-year-old recently suggested that she will ‘evolve’ away from tennis after the US Open, which begins in less than two weeks.
Her warm-up against Raducanu at the Cincinnati Open didn’t go to plan as the Brit romped to victory in just over an hour. Having taken the first set 6-4, she raced through the second 6-0 to ‘bagel’ Williams for the first time in four years.
Fellow Brit Konta was the last player to shut Williams out of a set when she did so at the San Jose Classic in 2018.
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Williams scurried off court after the emphatic defeat, declining a request for an on-court interview with the master of ceremonies. A bottle of champagne had also been set aside to suggest that some sort of farewell was in the works, but the American was in no mood to celebrate and declined to carry out her post-match press conference.
In stark contrast, she gave a tearful speech last time out at the Canadian Open after losing to Belinda Bencic in the second round. For Raducanu, the statement win over Williams arrived at the perfect time as she gears up to defend her US Open crown at Flushing Meadows.
“Watching her growing up, it was an amazing experience to just play her. I think from the beginning to the end, I maybe looked calm, but I just knew how important every single point was, because if you let up a little bit, she’s going to be all over you. She’s just such a legend.
“The stadium was really packed. Even if they were cheering for Serena, I was, like, it’s 100 per cent going to happen. I was prepared for that. To play the greatest in her home country in a stadium like that, I knew and was all for it. If she’s maybe going to stop playing soon, then, 100 per cent, go cheer ahead.”