Emma Raducanu calls chance to play Serena Williams ‘an amazing gift’, Cincinnati opener pushed back to Tuesday
- Western & Southern Open organisers delay match by 24 hours because of scheduling issues
- Williams is in the last few weeks of her illustrious career after announcing her decision to retire
Emma Raducanu will have to wait just a little longer before she gets to face Serena Williams at this week’s Western & Southern Open.
The pair were expected to play at the tournament in Mason, Ohio, on Monday, but organisers said that has now been put back 24 hours because of “a number of factors related to scheduling”.
Having announced her decision to retire, Williams is in the last few weeks of her illustrious career, and Raducanu said being able to play the 41-year-old was an “amazing opportunity”.
“I was excited, I was happy,” the defending US Open champion said. “I think it’s an amazing gift to play the best tennis player of all time on her way out.
“It’s probably going to be my last opportunity to play her unless I draw her [at the US Open] in New York. But I think whatever happens it’s just going to be a great memory that I’ll always have.”
Williams has said she wants to have another child and pursue business interests, and while the 23-time grand slam champion has not said what her last event will be, her final farewell is expected to come at the US Open, which begins on August 29 in New York.
Rightly considered the best female player of all time, Williams became world No 1 for the first time in 2002, the same year that her 19-year-old opponent on Tuesday was born.
“It’s pretty incredible how long she’s been in the game for, and to have that length of career and longevity that she’s had is something I aspire to,” Raducanu said.
“Just to be playing tennis for a long time. And of course, how she’s dominated the game is pretty surreal, and no one else has done that.”
Separately, teenager Coco Gauff will become the new world No 1 in women’s doubles when the rankings are released on Monday after her weekend title win at the Canadian Open with fellow American Jessica Pegula.
Gauff will move up from sixth to displace Elise Mertens from the top of the rankings, on the back of the victory over Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Ellen Perez in the final of the US Open warm-up tournament.
The 18-year-old is the second youngest player to top the women’s doubles rankings after Martina Hingis, aged 17 when she achieved the feat in 1998.
Gauff said becoming world No 1 in doubles was “pretty cool” even if she could not claim it was a childhood dream.
“As a kid, I’m going to be honest with you, I didn’t even know there was separate rankings for singles and doubles,” she told reporters in Toronto. “But when I got on tour and when I realised I could do well in doubles … I wanted to. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be No 1 in anything?”
Gauff and Pegula, who reached the final at the French Open this year, confirmed that they would pair up for the rest of the season where their schedules allowed.
That includes later this month at the US Open, where they will be looking to become the first all-American team to win the women’s doubles title at Flushing Meadows since Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond in 2011.
“That would be pretty cool. We were close at the French Open,” said Gauff, who lost in the US Open final with Caty McNally last year. “But I don’t want to put any pressure on ourselves. I think we play the best when we just take it one match at a time and one point at a time.”