US Open 2022 – The doubles elimination of Venus and Serena Williams marked the final act of one of the most dominant duos in tennis.

NEW YORK — As the game slipped away from the Williams sisters Thursday night, the crowd oscillated between frustration and brief euphoria.

Moments of greatness Venus And Serena They were welcomed with great celebration. But the times when things went wrong betrayed the true emotion of the occasion.

Within Arthur Ashe, it was a joint acceptance that neither of us would see each other in court again.

as a Czech pair Lucy Hradecka And Linda Noskova Edges, unforced errors or lost break points were met with murmuring encouragement from the crowd, their heroines ready to summon another tennis miracle. To give them one more boost.

Barring a change of heart, Serena has indicated that she will retire from the game in the next 10 days. Venus’s immediate future is unclear. She played a supporting role in her younger sister’s shadow during Serena’s farewell tour.

While Serena’s two successful singles matches at the US Open were under the spotlight amid a once-in-a-generation boxing match-like atmosphere, Venus’s loss to Alison van Uytwang on Tuesday was in the mid-afternoon sun. -Full Arthur Ash.

There’s no montage welcoming her — but then again no announcement about her future. Asked earlier in the week if she was also thinking about her own evolution, she replied that she was focusing on the doubles with Serena.

“I think Venus deserves more credit,” said one fan who traveled from Nebraska this morning to see her heroines. “But this is Serena’s match — Venus is a good sister.”

That has been her role for the past year. While Venus continues to grow her businesses and return to tennis, Serena is running her own story around her future and away from the game.

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It was Serena’s call for the two to play doubles — “she’s the boss,” says Venus.

“I feel like it’s really important that she’s a part of this,” Serena said Monday. “She’s my rock. I’m really excited to play with her and do the same again.”

Venus certainly answered the call. “We’re a huge influence on each other, and I’m a huge influence on her,” Venus said earlier this week. But Venus knows how to play when it comes to Serena’s “evolution.”

“I felt my role was to make sure I didn’t hurt her in any way, and the decision was for her and her family,” Venus said. “The new part of the family, I guess I’d say, because obviously we’re family.”

“It’s really important to do things on her own terms,” ​​Venus added.

We saw it on Thursday. It was Serena who took them both to practice. It was Serena who led the way in Arthur Ashe’s entry. But ultimately it was Venus who led them.

There is an inevitable nostalgia around these two, especially in this part of the world. While Venus’ proudest tennis memories are at Wimbledon, the two are beloved in New York.

Before the sisters entered, a snapshot of their lives narrated by Questlove played out on the court. The two Czechs did their best to focus as clips full of silverware rolled above them. Montage tried to sum up the Williams sisters’ legacy in 71 seconds. If Noskova’s attention had wandered for a second, she would have seen many scenes before she was alive. By the time of her birth in November 2004, the sisters had already won 10 singles slams and six doubles titles.

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“It’s a crew of 2 women dismembering,” Questlove said in the montage. “Their impact on the sport 2 wider 2 start 2. We are all 2 lucky. For 2 decades we have watched 2 great athletes show how 2 can become 1.”

It ended with Questlove making one last request: “PS it’s not too late 2 change your mind. Our 2 cents.”

For Serena, this is it. But Venus can play well. He has been raising questions about retirement for years. Since her return to competitive tennis — her first mixed doubles match this year at Wimbledon after 11 months of injury — the array of questions has shifted to figuring out why she returned and what motivates her to keep playing. game.

Seeing the grass at Wimbledon and playing Serena was motivation. Other times he says he came back because of his love for tennis. She often uses the word “grateful” whenever asked how she feels.

But this week there was that old determination. Asked what drives her now, she replied: “Three letters — success. That’s it. Very simple.”

On Thursday, Venus’ motto is “take my side in court and be a good sister.” The competitive fire burns brighter than ever for these two, and even if they lose in straight sets, it’s not for lack of intensity, focus or desire. They faced a unit that played with precision without any emotion. Hrateka and Noskova sent the Williams sisters all over the court to win 7-6 (5), 6-4.

For a long time, the Williams sisters resembled their own Tour de France team — sometimes one was ahead and the other was in a slipstream. In other cases they will run faster against each other. Sometimes one would be flying on the court and the other would support her. Venus on Tuesday called it an “exchange of energy and exchange of giving.”

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As Venus’ US Open run comes to an end, it should help her prepare for her third-round match against Serena. Ajla Tomljanovic On Friday. Venus will remain in her box as usual, as Serena did to her before, and will do so in the future.

Feels like Venus is not ready to do tennis. And again at 2021 Wimbledon, she said, “When it’s my last match, I’ll let you know. I’ll whisper it in your ear.”

If she had whispered on Thursday evening, the whole place would have been silent to hear. It’s the collective control the Williams sisters still have over their adoring public, who look forward to one last performance of their biggest hits. Serena still has at least one more; Venus may return next year for one more tour.

But it was an understated gesture that put the finishing touches to the final act of one of tennis’ most dominant combined forces, waving to the crowd as they exited the Ashes.

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