Serena and Venus Williams v Linda Nosková and Lucie Hradecká: US Open Doubles – Live! | US Open Tennis 2022

Key events

First set: *Williams/Williams 3-2 Noskova/Hradecka (* Indicates servers)

Venus serves. The Americans jump to a 30-0 lead and consolidate it with a strong serve to the body that is too good for Noskova. A sweet moment for the teen next, as she exchanges a series of fiery forehands with Venus, only 25 years her senior. She also wins the point and we are soon at deuce. A double foul provides a breaking point for the Czechs, who save Venus with a fine serve that drives Hradecka long. Venus hits another double fault – her serve is a bit erratic today – but in the end it’s another Williams hold.

First set: Williams/Williams 2-2 Noskova/Hradecka* (* Indicates servers)

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula are the number 2 in women’s doubles. Or they WERE: they just lost to Canadian/Aussie duo Leylah Annie Fernandez and Daria Saville. Fernandez, you may remember, reached the singles final last year.

Back on Arthur Ashe, Noskova serves and tumbles to the field at 30-15. She’s down for a while, but gets back on her feet soon enough and holds the serve.

First set: *Williams/Williams 2-1 Noskova/Hradecka (* Indicates servers)

Serena’s turn to serve. And she continues her form from yesterday as the Williamses move to a 40-15 lead. But a double fault lets the Czechs back in and we are soon at deuce. But some strong serves from Serena seal the game for the Americans.

First set: Williams/Williams 1-1 Noskova/Hradecka* (* Indicates servers)

Teenager Noskova saves first for the Czechs – the youth have no fear etc. She sends an ace to make it 30-15, so all in all not a bad decision. Another good serve helps close the match.

First set: *Williams/Williams 1-0 Nosková/Hradecká (* Indicates servers)

Nosková took a bathroom break before the match started. But you would also be nervous about the Williams sisters. Anyway, Venus serves to Noskova first. The experienced Hradecká throws a volley into the net, perhaps she also has nerves, to give the Americans a 15-0 lead. Venus has a few issues with tossing the ball early – it’s a quiet night and the sun has set, so it’s not a problem with the conditions. It doesn’t matter, they hold easily enough and they are on the board.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands is in the ESPN booth, playing the Williams sisters in doubles. She says the sisters are hall of fame players based on their doubles skills. Mattek-Sands also compliments Hradecká’s service, which she considers one of the best on tour.

And the players are on the field. First, the Czech team of Linda Nosková and Lucie Hradecká perish… maybe four hurrahs. I imagine the next pair will get a slightly louder reception. But first, we get a video presentation telling us that the Williamses are pretty good at tennis, all things considered. This is good information to know for the future.

And then they’re out: Venus in white and green, and Serena in black. And yes, there is a lot of cheering. Though I wouldn’t say it’s deafening, maybe because it’s double that and the stands still aren’t packed as the evening session crowd slowly pours in. Maybe they’re still watching the Mets at CitiField (the Mets beat the Dodgers 5-3 in the 8th, just in case you want to know, which you probably don’t).

Williams’ opponents tonight are a mix of youth and experience. Linda Nosková is only 17 and this is her first ever appearance at a grand slam doubles event. She is currently outside the Top 200 in doubles, although that may be due to her inexperience rather than a lack of ability. However, her partner is a veteran of the track. Lucie Hradecká is 37, has been a pro for 18 years and has two Grand Slam titles in doubles, including the US Open in 2013. She may be past her prime, but she is still a Top 20 doubles player, so this match won’t be a walkover for the Williamses.

We’ve talked a lot about Serena’s likely retirement after the US Open, but is this the last time we’ll see Venus? After all, she is the older sister and has barely played in the past year due to an injury. When she lost to Alison van Uytvanck in the first round of singles here in New York, she was asked about her future and only said, “Right now I’m just concentrating on doubles.”

Amid Serena’s brilliance, it’s easy to forget how good Venus has been over the years. This was her 91st appearance in a major singles event, a record in the Open era. She also won Wimbledon five times, behind only Martina Navratilova (nine), Serena (seven) and Steffi Graf (seven). Oh, and her record in Flushing Meadows isn’t bad either: she won the singles and doubles title in the early 2000s.

Preamble

Venus and Serena Williams are now 40 and 42 respectively, so they’re not quite at the peak of their careers anymore – although one of them just beat the world No. 2 – but in their day they were arguably the most formidable doubles team in the history . How good? Their all-time record in grand slams as a team is 125-14. In the Olympics it’s 15-1, and in tournament finals it’s a ridiculous 22-1.

In total, they have won 14 Grand Slam titles as a doubles partner (in addition to their 30 singles titles). It’s actually been a while since they played in a grand slam together – they reached the third round of the French Open in 2018. Their last grand slam title in doubles was at Wimbledon in 2016.

So, what are their chances this time? If Serena’s remarkable streak in singles continues, it shouldn’t be a surprise if she pulls out of doubles to conserve energy. But make no mistake, even in their 40s, the sisters are capable of a deep run.

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