After two years of a covid-affected US Open, this year’s tournament had a dramatic, exciting draw and full crowds. With over 776,000 fans walking through the gates of the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, this year’s US Open had record crowds.
Twenty-three years after American tennis legend Serena Williams captured her first US Open title, she played what is believed to be her last professional tennis match ever. In the first round, Williams beat the world’s seventy-eighth best player, Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic 6-3 6-3. In the second round, Williams was tasked with playing the current world number three, Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit. After nearly two and a half hours, a determined Williams emerged victorious, winning 7(4)-6, 2-6, 6-2. In the third round, Williams faced the world number thirty-four, Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, who she had never played before. After three tough sets lasting over three hours, Tomljanovic came out on top and put an end to Williams’s illustrious career. As Williams puts it, she is not retiring, simply “evolving” away from her professional tennis career. A tearful Williams left Arthur Ashe with promises that she was “evolving,” not retiring, from tennis.
Despite this tournament marking the end of a career, it also showed a prominent start to another. Nineteen-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won the 2022 US Open, capturing his first-ever Grand Slam title. Alcaraz defeated many top players including the fifteenth seed Marin Cilic, the eleventh seed Jannik Sinner, the twenty-second seed Frances Tiafoe, and fifth seed Casper Ruud. Alcaraz’s win also skyrocketed him to the top of the ATP rankings, making him the youngest men’s world number one ever. . In just one year, Alcaraz jumped from a relatively low-standing playing in challengers to Grand Slam champion and world number one.
In exciting news for the American crowd, DC-born Frances Tiafoe reached the semifinals of the US Open, making him the first American to reach the semis since Andy Roddick did so at the 2006 Open. Tiafoe defeated fourteenth seed Diego Schwartzman, ninth seed Andrey Rublev, and in a major upset, second seed Rafael Nadal. Taking out Nadal in the fourth round is the biggest win of Tiafoe’s career, and his run to the semifinals cements him as the nineteenth-best player in the world and the second-best American male player.
Additionally, Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur became the first ever Arab or African woman to reach the finals of the US Open. She defeated Caroline Garcia in the semis to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam final. She lost to Poland’s Iga Swiatek and currently sits just beneath Swiatek in the rankings at number two in the world.
At the 2022 US Open, tennis fans worldwide bid farewell to some of its greatest stars, all while welcoming players with bright careers ahead of them. The US Open is the last of four Grand Slam events in 2022. The next Grand Slam will be the 2023 Australian Open — will the tennis world say goodbye to another great, or witness the birth of another superstar?