Sports surprise us. That’s why we watch. If we knew who was going to win, there would be little reason in tuning in.
Many people surely deemed there to be little reason to tune in on Saturday for a different reason, in the wake of Serena Williams being defeated. One round away from getting a #1 vs #2 final, as both Williams and Simona Halep were in the semifinals, Roberta Vinci and Flavia Pennetta got in the way, leading to a U.S. Open final of not just the oldest first-time finalist in the Open Era, but the two oldest first-time finalists in the Open Era. Both Italians who have known each other for over 20 years, those were just added variables for the always-unpredictable scenario of two players, man or woman, regardless of age, competing in their first major final.
Pennetta and Vinci didn’t exactly play an all-time epic, but they acquitted themselves well. Vinci went up an early break, from which Pennetta recovered before claiming the first set in a tiebreak. With her nerves more under control, Pennetta, the better player, held firm control of the second to win the title, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
Amid all-time great seasons from Williams and Novak Djokovic, Saturday’s final was unlikely to make its mark in history on tennis alone. It did create long-lasting memories though with what happened after the match. First, the two had a moving embrace at the net, commemorating a shared life experience between friends, and a momentous occasion for their home country of Italy.
Then, after both had been all smiles accepting their trophies, Pennetta stunned the sports world:
— Reem Abulleil (@ReemAbulleil) September 12, 2015
Pennetta, 33, clarified she would finish out the season before retiring, though this marks her final Grand Slam appearance.
On days like this, we are reminded wins and losses aren’t the only reason we watch. It’s for the thrill, the shock, the competition, the moments that will stand the test of time:
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 12, 2015