Serena Williams made a quick exit from the court after losing to Emma Raducanu in the opening round of the Cincinnati Masters, but gave the Brit a brief congratulations when they shook hands at the net. Williams came into the Masters 1000 event having recently announced her impending retirement.
She has indicated that the US Open will be her last tournament before retiring as arguably the greatest of all time. Raducanu stood in her way of embarking on a memorable run in Cincinnati though and the Brit was unrelenting in her dominance.
The reigning US Open champion showed no mercy as she immediately broke in the first game and that set the tone for the rest of the match. Raducanu needed little over an hour to see off the tennis icon in one of the most one-sided defeats of Williams’ career.
For the British No 1, it was also one of her most dominant wins on tour as she made just one unforced error, winning 6-4, 6-0. Williams was gracious in defeat after Raducanu served out for the match, approaching her opponent at the net with a smile on her face.
“Thank you, great match, thank you,” Williams said to Raducanu. The 19-year-old smiled as she shook hands with the tennis legend and held back on her celebrations on the court.
Williams then went to her chair and made a quick exit from the court to huge cheers from the crowd inside the arena. It appeared as though Williams was being approached about doing an on-court interview, but the 40-year-old continued on her way to the dressing room.
Raducanu chose to pay tribute to her opponent with her first words in her post-match interview on the court. “I think we all just need to honour Serena and her amazing career,” Raducanu said.
“I’m so grateful for the experience to just being able to play her and for our careers to have crossed over. Everything she has achieved is so inspirational and it was a true honour to share the court with her.”
She added: “The atmosphere tonight was amazing and to play with Serena – even when you guys were cheering for her, I was like ‘you know what, all for it’. To be honest, I was nervous from the first point to the last point because I know what a champion she is.
“She can come back from any situation so I really had to stay focussed and I’m just so pleased that I managed to keep my composure.”