As Serena Williams prepares to “evolve away from tennis,” there was one more chapter of her career she needed to revisit: she needed to play doubles with her sister Venus one last time.
In front of a packed crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday night, the 14-time Grand Slam doubles champions took on Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova in the first round of the US Open women’s doubles competition.
According to ESPN, this is the first time the sisters have played together at a major in more than four years. Unfortunately, there were too many moments where every bit of that time apart showed on the court and they lost 7-6, 6-4.
The night started with a video tribute to Venus and Serena’s greatness. Narrator Questlove called them a “two woman wrecking crew” and noted that “their impact was too vast to describe.”
Once the match started, the three-time Olympic gold medalists showed flashes of their winning ways but experienced doubles competitor Hrdecka was not intimidated by the spectacle surrounding the siblings. The two teams pushed one another to a first-set tiebreak, which featured some brilliance from Serena. Ultimately, Hradecka and Noskova put together four straight points and took the first set. From there, they went up 3-0 to start the second, and the Williams sisters weren’t able to overcome the deficit.
During an on-court interview, Hrdecka acknowledged the crowd’s disappointment, while asserting pride in her team’s win. “I’m so sorry for you that we beat them, but we are so happy that we did it,” she said.
As Venus and Serena left the court together for what is likely the last time, the legends received a well-deserved standing ovation from the fans.
Elsewhere in the women’s doubles draw, No. 2 seeds Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula were upset in a controversial 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 loss to Leylah Fernandez and Daria Saville.
Per ESPN, with the third set tiebreak at 7-5, the chair umpire called a let point when a piece of paper flew on the court behind Pegula and Gauff. This means they replay the point, which is the standard rule when an object lands on the court and interrupts things. The problem for the Americans is this went down just as Coco was hitting a winner. Pegula was not happy and could be heard yelling profanities at the umpire. That seemed to affect their game, with Fernandez and Saville winning the last three points and eliminating one of the top doubles seeds.
Coco and Jess are both playing really well in singles, so that’s what they need to focus on now.