Venus Williams suffers her most lopsided defeat at the US Open
Venus Williams’ 100th career U.S. Open match produced her most lopsided loss at the Grand Slam tournament where she won the trophy in 2000 and 2001.
Williams, at 43 the oldest player in the field, was eliminated 6-1, 6-1 by Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen at muggy Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first round on Tuesday night.
The first 21 times Williams entered the U.S. Open, she went 21-0 in the first round. But this was her third consecutive opening-round loss at Flushing Meadows.
The 26-year-old Minnen was born in August 1997, the month before Williams reached the U.S. Open final for the first time.
“For me, it was incredible to play a legend like her. I have huge respect,” said Minnen, who is ranked 97th and entered the evening with a 4-12 career record in Grand Slam matches. “To be there at 43 years old, it’s amazing really.”
Williams — whose younger sister, Serena, retired from tennis after last year’s U.S. Open — owns seven major championships, including five at Wimbledon.
But she has lost in the first or second round in each of her past 12 Slam appearances.
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The spectators on Tuesday seemed thrilled just to get a chance to see her play in person, sending her toward the locker room with a standing ovation. Williams gave a quick wave and a smile as she walked off, her red racket bag slung over her left shoulder.
The temperature was in the low 70s Fahrenheit (20s Celsius), but the humidity was 90%, and Williams was not able to stay in the points with Minnen.
It was quickly 3-0, with Williams — owner of what used to be one of the most intimidating serves in the game — broken twice right away. She lost each of her first half-dozen second-serve points.
Minnen did what she could to keep Williams off-balance and it worked.
“She has amazing strokes, amazing serve. … I tried to make her move as much as possible,” Minnen said, adding that used drop shots effectively, “which I’m not used to.”
By the end, holding a large lead against one of the greats of the sport, Minnen said she felt some jitters trying to close out the victory.
“My heart was beating really, really fast,” she said.