Serena loses to 26th seed at U.S. Open

This year was supposed to topple the already astonishing achievements of Serena Williams’ tennis career. With four Grand Slam tournament wins under her belt already in 2015, Williams’ brilliance over the competition was anticipated at the beginning of the US Open. What was not expected was the 26th seed, Roberta Vinci’s, tactical win over Williams, who had crushed her prior opponents.

Williams’ loss was a shot heard around the world and was proclaimed as the big-gest upset in tennis history. Yet, despite the loss and its overwhelming publicity, it is an unnoticeable dent in her legacy and a testament to the nature of tennis.

The loss, from a narrow standpoint, was a historically unexpected outcome. According to USA Today, Williams had a 30/1 odds of winning while Vinci had a 200/1 odds of winning. Williams had the most experience out of any current female tennis player in the final rounds of any Grand Slam tournament and Vinci had played her very first semifinal round in a Grand Slam tournament. Williams won the prior four tournaments essentially unchallenged while Vinci’s progress in the US Open was unaccounted for.

Taking these points into consideration, many may say Vinci’s win over Williams was an upset comparable to David and Goliath. However, that would mean ignoring the fundamental nature of the sport, which is not based on statistical analysis.

Williams is an athlete who won twenty-one Grand Slam titles, and the third most Grand Slam wins in women’s tennis history. To put this accomplishment into perspective, Williams eclipsed the all-time male winner, Rodger Federer, by four title wins. She is an athlete who started playing on worn-out tennis courts in Compton, California and made a statement on the global stage by her teenage years. According to WTA and ATP, her 85.70 winning percentage is 5 percent higher than any active female tennis player. Rafel Nadal is credited with the closest winning percentage of 82.9 percent.

Nevertheless, although some will say that the loss is incredible because of her achievements, others will say it was bound to happen eventually. None of this is new criticism for almost any athlete, but in light of her defeat, stories of stress have begun to accumulate as if to apologize for her loss.

The most disappointing aspect of sports news is how a loss for a great athlete can continue to loom and over power the sports news cycle. It is because certain athletes have had greater success than others that their fall is juicer in terms of newswriting standards. Nonetheless, Williams’ loss is a reminder of the true fragility of sports in general. Thousands of hours of practice and hundreds of matches cannot amount to the actual moment of winning a set. Williams admitted this fact in several post-tournament interviews and sticks to the nature of the sport with no excuses.

The string of media excuses for Williams’ loss and Vinci’s win are so misplaced that the hype over two Italians in the US Open Final missed a strong media spot-light opportunity. William’s bout with Vinci was a well-contested match with two experienced tennis players. Ultimately the contestant who employed the more strategically effective game won the match. Vinci’s efforts more than deserved this win, despite all of the statistical evidence that showed Williams’ control over the court. Instead of focusing on this one particular loss and what may have come, reporters should begin rephrasing their questions and focusing on how Williams plans to further cement herself as one of the greatest tennis players of any gender and era. She is 33 and shows no sign of slowing down.

-Bar Hass ’16, Senior Sports Editor

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