Tennis Prose



Remembering Pennetta’s Amazing US Open Triumph

Flavia Pennetta has been nominated for election to the International Tennis Hall of Fame next summer. The Italian’s most notable success was her unlikely victory at the 2015 US Open, which nobody predicted. Pennetta, at 33, became the oldest first time Grand Slam champion. She became the first woman to win her first Grand Slam title winner after turning 30.

Pennetta’s run to the title was loaded with obstacles. In the first round, the 26 seed beat Jarmila Gajdosova 61 36 61. In the second round Pennetta beat Monica Niculescu 61 64.

In the third round Pennetta faced off with Petra Cetkovska, who had beaten McHale 46 64 63 and Caroline Wozniacki 64 57 76. Pennetta survived Cetkovska by the skin of her teeth, 16 61 64.

Fourth round would be another dangerous adversary in 22 seed and former 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur but she prevailed 64 64.

Quarterfinals foe Petra Kvitova, the 5 seed, gained the early advantage of the duel but again Pennetta solved the Czech lefty with a 46 64 62 win.

After this win Pennetta told the media: “Of course I’m really, really happy. It’s something incredible. Before the tournament I never think to be so far in the tournament, so it’s something special. It’s something amazing for me in this moment… I didn’t play really well in the last week and the feeling was not that good. I just come here and try to practice, try to find the good feeling with the ball, with the atmosphere here, and everything it seems working.”

In the semifinals Pennetta dominated Simona Halep 61 63. In the other semi, three-time defending champion Serena Williams was upset by Italian Robert Vinci 62 46 46 which set up an unlikely all-Italian final. Pennetta first played Vinci at age nine, “We spent four years or three years in a house together in the same room in Rome in the Italian Federation. So we know each other really well. I mean, we have so many things in our life happening together. It’s funny to be here today, because we play the first match when we were nine years old in Brindisi, in my country club.”

After beating Halep, Pennetta shared her thoughts with the media and admitted, her self belief to be a Grand Slam champ didn’t exist three weeks earlier: “Of course I’m really happy. I think I play really well from the beginning. In the second set, I just wait a little bit too much in the beginning of the second set waiting for her mistake and I didn’t push a lot like before. But really happy, because I was 3-1 down and I just starting again with what I had to do. Everything was working amazing today, so really pleased…. It’s amazing, because also 20 days ago my physio asked me if I was if I never think that I can win a Grand Slam or be in final of Grand Slam, and I say no [smiles]. I mean, for a lot of reason I think my answer was no, but like always say you never know. I mean, you just have to play and try your best, and the good things coming when you never expect most of the time.”

Pennetta also revealed that her tennis goals as a girl were limited. “I didn’t have a goal so high. I have to be honest. I mean, I always thinking I would like to play Rome, for sure, because when I was really young every year my mom and my dad bring me to see the tournament. So I grow up with Rome tournament, and the first year when I play there was amazing for me because it was something — it was my dream. Or I always want to play with Seles or Capriati because was somebody I really love to watch. I buy all the stuff of like all the dress of Seles, the Steffi racquet. I was look at them like amazing player, amazing people. So my goal was just to play Rome, to be a good Italian player. Not a good in the world, but in Italy, yeah.”

It would be Pennetta’s 49th Grand Slam main draw appearance (and also her last). Pennetta defeated her childhood friend Vinci 76 62 and exceeded her own expectations and dreams. “I think it’s today I have all the — not the problems, but, you know, you starting when you are really young and you make a lot of decision, hard decision to make. You lose so many things when you’re young. With this, winning today, it’s — my life is perfect [smiles] So I cannot say something different. Perfect.”

When asked by a reporter why she won the final, Pennetta answered: “Because I was really consistent from the beginning of the match. I didn’t play my best tennis today. I have to say I was scared and tight from the beginning. Was not easy for me to hit the ball in the same way that I did yesterday. Roberta was playing unbelievable. I mean, she was moving good and doing perfect things all the time, but in the second set she start to be a little bit tired. So I was focused and try to push myself to do something more, to going for the match; the match point was perfect. I mean, I push, and I make it.”

Penntta has been considering quitting pro tennis for some time and announced her retirement after the match. She never played in another Grand Slam. She did finish the 2015 season at the WTA Tour Finals in Singagore where she beat Aga Radwanska and lost to Halep in the round robin. Her final professional match was a loss to Maria Sharapova in her third round robin match.

Pennetta also won the 2011 Australian Open doubles title with her friend Gisela Dulko of Argentina. Overall, Flavia won 11 singles titles, 17 doubles titles and over $14m in prize money earnings. Her best ranking in singles was no. 6. In doubles she was world no. 1 in February 2011.

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  • Cory · October 10, 2023 at 11:52 pm

    That was a wild run in 2015, i remember it well. Neither Vinci nor Pennetta was expected to even be a finalist. Pennetta knocked out some big names en route. Very likeable player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 11, 2023 at 7:44 am

    Total shocker and it’s never mentioned anymore. It’s almost as if she never won a Grand Slam title. One of the all time time tennis underdog stories. Vinci beating Serena from a set down in the semi was equally shocking. Highlight moment of Italian tennis history may never be surpassed.

  • Sam · October 12, 2023 at 8:42 pm

    I remember that well—Vinci beating Serena there made my whole weekend. 😀 And that was well before I knew anything about Serena and Venus being biological males.

    By the way, Scoop, you said that your biofile of the college player Serena Williams was buried somewhere in your vault. Did you ever happen to find it? It’d be kinda fun to see what that Serena looks like. 😎

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 12, 2023 at 8:54 pm

    Sam, the other Serena Williams feature was a short write up I did for Tennis Magazine, because one year at US Open I was watching matches with a girl I met there who told me she played college tennis in up state NY and the team took a bus down together to US Open at like 5 am and one of the teammates she said was named Serena Williams, so we kept in touch and Tennis Magazine liked the idea and we did it. I must dig that up. It’s in my closet archives.

  • Sam · October 15, 2023 at 8:57 pm

    Scoop, that’s interesting how the interview came about. I wonder if that Serena is on her second child now too. 😆

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 16, 2023 at 8:11 am

    We’ll never find the answer on that. Or apparently, what happened to Osaka’s alleged baby.

  • Sam · October 18, 2023 at 9:23 pm

    That’s really strange about Osaka’s so-called baby. 😐

  • Scoop Malinowski · October 18, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    Not really though, considering the amount of fake, phony, fraudulence there is in the world today. Just another hoax publicity stunt.

  • Sam · October 21, 2023 at 10:02 pm

    True—in many ways just business as usual. 😐



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