Flavia Pennetta has defeated Roberta Vinci to win the U.S. Open, in a women’s final that was an all-Italian affair.
The two women have more in common than their nationality. They were opponents and doubles partners as kids, the Associated Press reports. It was the first major final for both. And they were both outperforming expectations just by being there: Vinci was unseeded, and Pennetta was the 26th seed.
And, of course, they had already surprised the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium by who they weren’t. Neither woman was Serena Williams — whose bid for a calendar Grand Slam ended on Friday in an astonishing game against Vinci.
While Vinci ended Williams’ run, she wasn’t able to take the title home: Pennetta won 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 on Saturday. It’s Pennetta’s first Grand Slam title — and, at 33, she’s the oldest first-time Grand Slam champion of the Open era.
After her victory, Pennetta announced that this U.S. Open had been her last. She is retiring, she said — going out in dramatic fashion, “with this big trophy.” The BBC reports that Pennetta later said she will play through the end of the year before retiring.
Vinci, for her part, said she wanted that trophy for herself, and pretended to steal Pennetta’s check. It was a bit of fun between close friends, reports The Associated Press:
They grew up 40 miles (65 kilometers) apart in coastal towns in Puglia, a region on the heel of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula, and have been facing each other on court for two decades – with the stakes much lower, of course. They shared some laughter and tears in the locker room together Friday while watching a video of a TV interview they did back in 1999, when they won a junior doubles title at the French Open.
And when Saturday’s match ended, after Pennetta flung her racket overhead, she went up to the net to find Vinci, not for a handshake but for a lengthy hug. Vinci patted her pal on the back repeatedly, while Pennetta cried. Then they sat on adjacent sideline chairs and chatted, just a couple of foes and friends, sharing a special moment.