Czech pair ‘sorry’ for beating Williams sisters
Czech team Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova apologized to the New York crowd after sending home favorites Venus and Serena Williams packing in the first round of the US Open women’s doubles on Thursday night.
Immensely decorated in individual terms – with Serena boasting 23 Grand Slam singles titles and Venus capturing seven – the Williams siblings have also enjoyed immense success as a duo down the years.
They have teamed up to win 14 Grand Slam doubles titles – including two at Flushing Meadows – as well as three Olympic gold medals.
But they will not add to that tally this year, and perhaps never, after suffering a 6-7 (5-7) 4-6 loss to Hradecka and Noskova in front of a bumper crowd of 23,859 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium in a contest lasting two hours and five minutes.
Acknowledging that they had broken home fans’ hearts in what is seen as a doubles swansong for the Williamses, Hradecka told fans afterwards that she was “in shock” that she and Noskova had prevailed.
“I’m so sorry for you that we beat them, but we are so happy that we did it,” added the 37-year-old, who is a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion – winning one of those titles in New York in 2013 after beating the Williams sisters in the semifinals.
That success was alongside Andrea Hlavackova, while current partner Noskova is just 17 years old. “Playing against the Williams sisters is a special moment for everybody, anyone and anytime,” the youngster said of the experience she gained on Thursday night in Queens.
Venus and Serena Williams did not give their own post-match comments, but did wave to the crowd as they made their way off court to a standing ovation.
The early exit was just the second time that Serena and Venus Williams have lost their opening doubles match at a Grand Slam, with the last occasion being at the US Open back in 1997. Their return on Thursday was their first major doubles outing together in more than four years.
The Williams family interest in this year’s tournament is not over, however, with 40-year-old Serena having a third-round singles meeting with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic to contest on Friday night, in front of what promises to be another full house at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Williams announced in August that she was “evolving” away from tennis, indicating that the US Open would be her last tournament, although she has since said in New York that she wanted to remain “vague” about her precise plans.
Venus Williams, 42, exited in the first round of the women’s singles at the hands of Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck, but swerved questions about her own retirement plans after that loss.
Czech pair Hradecka and Noskova move on to face 13th seeds Alexa Guarachi of Chile and Andreja Klepac of Slovenia in the next round in New York.