According to ESPN, the odds were 300-1 in favor of top-ranked Serena Williams against unseeded Italian tennis player Roberta Vinci in last week’s 2015 U.S. Open semifinals.
Statistics clearly favored Williams over Vinci: 69 singles titles compared to nine, a 732-122 record to 508-353. Additionally, Williams had won the last four Grand Slams over two seasons whereas Vinci did not make it past the second round in any of those tournaments. To make matters worse, in four previous meetings between them, Williams won every match without giving up a set in any of them.
Reasonably few believed Vinci had a chance of defeating the unquestioned best female tennis player in the world who was aiming to achieve the first calendar year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988. Vinci even doubted herself, as would anybody in that predicament. She was thought of as a mere bump in the road for Williams, however that bump in the road ended up wrecking William’s chance at history.
“When I wake up, I say, I have a semifinal today,” Vinci said to ESPN. “I did not expect that I would win.”
According to USA Today, Serena entered the semifinal on a 33-match Grand Slam winning streak whereas Vinci had 30 wins in total this season.
Vinci understood how important this match was. “It’s an incredible moment for me,” Vinci said to ESPN in a post-match interview. “It’s amazing, it’s like a dream, I’m in the final, and I beat Serena.
“I think this is the best moment of my life.”
Vinci was even seen apologizing at one point in the match. “For the American people, for Serena, for the Grand Slam, and everything, but today is my day. Sorry guys.” Vinci said.
Vinci’s game plan for beating the No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player seemed pretty simple.
“Try to put the ball on the court,” Vinci said. “Don’t think about Serena on the other court, and run, don’t think, run, and then I won.”
Williams also acknowledged Vinci’s incredible performance against her.
“I thought she played the best tennis in her career,” Williams said during a post-match interview. “You know, she’s 33, and you know, she’s going for it at a late age. So that’s good for her to keep going for it and playing so well.”
When Vinci played 26th-ranked Flavia Pennetta on Saturday, it was the first major finals appearance for both of the Italian women. Without Williams there was an apparent drop in popularity; tickets for Saturday’s final hit $1,500 on Stub-hub recently. Before the Vinci-Pennetta match, they could be bought for as little as $62. It was a very small price to pay to see Pennetta win her first Grand Slam title at 33, and then shock the tennis world by announcing that she will retire after this season.
Contributing Writer – Sports