September 26, 2022

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It was a quick farewell to Serena Williams in Cincinnati after Emma Raducano beat her

Serena Williams knocks out the Cincinnati Masters after losing 6-4 6-0 to Emma Raducano

Serena Williams knew defeat was a possibility against Emma Radocano at the Cincinnati Open. But she wouldn’t have expected it to be so brutal.

The 19-year-old US Open champion beat retired Williams aside in an hour and five minutes, winning 6-4 6-0 in a tough, balanced show. It was one of Raducanu’s best performances since winning the US Open last year.

There were no words of farewell or tears on the field in Williams’ wake, unlike last week’s Toronto when it lost to Belinda Bencic.

She immediately gathered her things and walked out of the court waving to the crowd that was still cheering her as if she had won, refusing to give an interview in court.

Williams struggled to find her rhythm – her backhand often let her down and hand easy points to Raducanu. Her serve wasn’t great either, and she erupted in fury on one occasion in the first set when another double fault awarded Radocano a break point.

But there were still flashes of her greatness, fighting spirit and brutal forehand punch that propelled her to an impressive 23 Grand Slam wins.

It was a quick farewell to Serena Williams in Cincinnati after Emma Raducano beat her

Raducano praised her opponent after his big win in Cincinnati

Raducano praised her opponent after his big win in Cincinnati

The 40-year-old quickly walked off the field after Radokano's ruthless defeat for her

The 40-year-old quickly walked off the field after Radokano’s ruthless defeat for her

Raducanu delivered one of her best performances of the year by defeating Williams 6-4, 6-0

Raducanu delivered one of her best performances of the year by defeating Williams 6-4, 6-0

Radocano paid tribute to Williams after the match and said it was a great honor to play it

Radocano paid tribute to Williams after the match and said it was a great honor to play it

After trailing 4-1 in the first set and 40-15 behind, Williams dominated the next few points with a forehand on her own and simultaneously whipped the crowd into a frenzy while taking charge of the match.

But here was Radokano’s response well. Her shot selection was clever, her forehand was also good and she responded to the break – then Williams grabbed some strong serve – with love hanging on.

Raducanu didn’t allow Williams, or the fans, to build momentum throughout the match. You made 14 winners with one non-compulsive mistake.

I didn’t actually know this statistic. “I think we all need to honor Serena and her incredible career,” said Radocano afterwards. “I am so grateful for the experience you played with and for our career overreach. It was my honor to share the court with her.

The weather tonight was amazing. Even when you (the fans) were cheering for her, I was all for her!

“I was nervous from point one to point one, she can come back from anything and I was glad I was able to keep my composure.”

But if Radokano is really nervous, no one will be able to tell. This was a laser-focused performance from the 19-year-old who looked around the area from the moment she crossed paths with Williams in the hallway outside the locker rooms.

Williams seemed to struggle especially with her backhand and serve on Tuesday

Williams seemed to struggle especially with her backhand and serve on Tuesday

Tennis fans in Cincinnati were strong to cheer Williams against Raducano

Tennis fans in Cincinnati were strong to cheer Williams against Raducano

But the 19-year-old was in great shape as he prepared her defense at the US Open

But the 19-year-old was in great shape as he prepared her defense at the US Open

Radocano paid tribute to Williams after the match and said it was a great honor to play it

Radocano paid tribute to Williams after the match and said it was a great honor to play it

For tennis fans based in the UK, think of this as Wimbledon in reverse. The crowd was completely united behind Serena, Radocano said — with every point she won they cheered as if she had won a match or a group.

“Serena the Goat” and “Long Live the Queen” read the banners that were waved aloft as Williams was announced and entered the stadium.

Maybe this fits Raducanu. There haven’t been many times since winning the US Open where she hasn’t been the center of attention but here, against Williams, she has been. It’s a victory-boosting confidence for her as she prepares to defend her title.

So it’s one last dance for Williams, at the US Open, although fans have stuck to the fact that she didn’t explicitly say Flushing Meadows would be her final tournament. Williams is 0-2 since she announced she is retiring.

“Tonight was a match for me, to be able to play the greatest of all time – who knows how many more chances we will have to share the pitch,” added Radocano.

“I think it’s amazing how our careers have overlapped and I was thinking to myself ‘That’s a total gift, you’re sharing the pitch at the best of all time. Make the most of it, for the rest of your career you’ll remember playing Serena Williams.

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Next up for Raducanu is the match against another former No. 1 player on the world, Belarus Azarenka.