2022 US Open preview: Serena’s last ever tournament headlines a star-studded fortnight

Story posted August 31, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Daniel Maiorana

Serena Williams’ illustrious career has made her an icon in the world of sports and the road has come to an end for one of the greatest athletes ever at the home of the US Open.

When Williams announced earlier this month that she’d be stepping away from tennis and focusing on other things in her life, people weren’t that surprised. It has always been a hard decision, but when reality factors in with Williams’, she knows it is time to step away.

Serena comes back to where she triumphed and won her first ever grand slam singles title in 1999 over then world No. 1 Martina Hingis. Now, 23 years later she is now a 23-time grand slam champion and a six-time US Open champion looking to make one last historic run.

Her and sister Venus Williams and both making this their last tournament, so the two have paired up for an all-time doubles team. The two have two women’s doubles titles at the US Open and would like to end their careers with a third.

Serena knows this is the end of the road, so a loss in this year’s US Open would go down as the most grand slam singles titles by any player in the Open Era and one short of Margaret Court’s record for grand slams total.

Not just a singles player, Serena has wone every doubles grand slam at least twice and has two grand slam mixed doubles titles.

Some contenders for Williams this year include Iga Swiatek and Emma Raducanu, Raducanu is the reigning women’s singles champion and Swiatek is the current world No. 1 and two-time French Open champion.

Swiatek is on paper the favorite by far but struggles on the hard court surface and in Flushing Meadows hasn’t made it past the fourth round. If one argues that, Swiatek can back that up with three WTA 1000 hard court tournaments earlier this season.

Ons Jabeur, another top player experienced in majors has always given Williams a hard time.

Jabeur is the current Wimbledon runner-up, and her powerful groundstroke play is somewhat similar to Williams when she was her age. If the two meet-up in the US Open, Serena may have trouble keeping up with the pace of Jabeur.

On the men’s side of the draw, Rafael Nadal headlines as he is going for his 23th grand slam singles title.

Since suffering an abdominal injury in this year’s Wimbledon semifinals, Nadal has played only one match since then, a first-round defeat at the Cincinnati Masters 1000 tournament two weeks ago.

Nadal has been questionable about this injury because it has come to hurt him in the past. Many know Nadal won’t put himself out on the court if he isn’t 100 percent and if that time ever comes it could mean an opening for some of the younger players in the draw.

Daniil Medvedev, the current world No. 1 is competing under a neutral flag due to his country’s, Russia, invasion of Ukraine. Medvedev is the reigning US Open champion, and he did so by stopping Novak Djokovic’s attempt of a calendar grand slam in 2021.

Djokovic is unable to play the US Open due to him being unvaccinated for COVID-19.

The world No. 2 Alexander Zverev is also unable to play this year due to torn ligaments in his ankle, which he suffered to against Nadal in the French Open semifinals.

Other young stars such as Carlos Alcaraz and Nick Kyrgios both serve as big threats to Nadal and everyone else in this year’s draw. With talents like them, there’s no telling how the tournament will end.

With a very open playing field, the men’s and women’s draws will be something to look out for.

Will Williams end her magical career the winning way on home soil?

Will Nadal tie Williams’ record of 23 grand slam singles titles or will it be another star in the sky?

Daniel Maiorana is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email dkm5903@psu.edu