Serena, Venus Williams lose in the 1st round


Serena and Venus Williams lost in the first round of doubles at the US Open on Thursday night at Arthur Ashe Stadium to Czech pair Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova 7-6 (5), 6-4.

She had never hosted a first-round doubles match — women’s or men’s, day or night — until this one with two American sisters, who have won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles together but are partnering French for the first time since 2018 Open.

This was her fourth loss in doubles in the first round at a slam; most recently at the French Open 2013.

As is usual when playing together, they traded fist bumps or palm slaps and chatted between points; they smiled as they chatted as they changed seats. When the game ended, the sisters hugged. They left the court to a standing ovation.

“I’m still shocked that we won,” Hradecka said in an on-pitch interview right after the end of the game.

To the crowd, she said, “I’m so sorry for you guys that we beat them, but we’re so happy we made it.”

An announced sell-off of 23,859 showed up, as did each of Serena’s two singles wins this week, although fans weren’t quite as boisterous on Thursday as they were at the other night games involving a player who hinted at the last event of their career. Serena plays Ajla Tomljanovic in the third singles round on Friday night; Venus lost in the first round of this bracket.

Doubles viewers saved their biggest cheers for some of Serena’s best efforts, whether it was aces or putaways or an on-the-run forehand winner. The sisters took an early lead of 5:4 and saved two set balls on Noskova’s serve, but couldn’t convert either.

The loudest moment probably came after a 19-slam point, which the sisters won in the tiebreak of the first set with three sweeping volleys from Serena. They took a 4:3 lead and soon it was 5:3.

But Hradecka and Noskova grabbed the next four points to win that set. They then took a 3-0 lead in the second and after the Williams sisters made it 4-4, the Czech team pulled away.

The Williams siblings received a wildcard entry into this year’s doubles field. Serena, who turns 41 next month, and Venus, who turns 42 in June, won 1999 – the year Serena won her first major singles cup in New York at the age of 17 – and 2009 doubles trophies at the US Open.

They have a total of 30 major trophies in singles: 23 for Serena, seven for Venus.

Hradecka is a 37-year-old who won two major doubles trophies with Andrea Hlavackova at the 2013 US Open and the 2011 French Open. 17-year-old Noskova made her Grand Slam doubles debut.

“Playing against the Williams sisters,” said Noskova, “is a special moment for everyone.”