Washington: It was as if Serena Williams was playing herself, the 17-year-old prodigy of 1999, when she won the first of her 23 grand slam titles, the first of six in front of her own fans – except the mirror answered back on Saturday night when the remarkable Bianca Andreescu, 19, won the title, beating her in straight sets.
It was her first slam final, the first time in four attempts she’d gone past the second round, and she became the first Canadian to win a major when, after an hour and 40 minutes that seemed much longer, she brought the drama to a close with a forehand into empty space that validated the 6-3, 7-5 scoreline.
Last year she couldn’t get out of qualifying in all four slams and finished the year ranked 178th in the world. When she leaves here, winning in her fourth appearance in a main draw, she will celebrate a remarkable season by breaking into the top ten.
In 11 seasons, 28-year-old Johanna Konta has beaten top-five players just seven times; since Andreescu joined the tour in 2015, she has beaten eight top-10 players in as many matches, and the results have come in a rush, interrupted by injury, over the past year.
If, as many good judges suspect, this is the changing of the guard, it was a privilege to witness it. It was not a great match, but it was a significant one.
History almost weighed both of them down, but it was Andreescu, younger by nearly 19 years – the biggest age gap in a slam final in the Open era – who held steady. It was the grand dame of tennis who cracked, despite launching a brave and desperate fightback in the second set.