300 to 1. Those were the odds that the Italian Roberta Vinci would defeat Serena Williams in the Grand Slam semifinals of the US Open. If Serena won, it would have been Williams’ first Calendar Grand Slam and the first Calendar Grand Slam since Steffi Graf accomplished the great feat in 1988.
The media was calling it the “Serena Slam.” The Calendar Grand Slam is defined as a professional tennis player winning all four of the Grand Slam tournaments consecutively in a year.
Williams won the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon prior to her shocking loss in the 2015 US Open semifinal. The thirty-three year old already owns 21 Grand Slam titles in her career. According to tennis fans, the defeat comes close to one of the biggest upsets in American sports history. Nick Bollettieri, a very respected professional tennis coach who has worked with both Andre Agassi and Williams, said in an interview about Serena’s loss, “No one beats Serena, but Serena.” However, one could beg to differ on that point.
Vinci outsmarted and outplayed Williams, winning by a final score of 2-6, 6-4, 6-4. Serena may have won the first set versus Vinci by a landslide, but Vinci’s game style is unique and leans more toward the style of a doubles player.
Vinci slices shots, rushes to the net, volleys, and finishes the points with outstanding touch and feel. Serena was uncomfortable, off-balance and did not control the game in the final set.
After the win, Vinci lit the stadium up with her enthusiastic smile. She proclaimed to crowd during her center court interview,“Sorry guys, today is my day.” Vinci herself was only ranked 43rd in the world, but she is no stranger to the trophy stand, however, having won 5 Grand Slam titles in doubles.
When she awoke on the morning of the match, the 32-year-old Italian did not think she was going to win. In fact, she already bought her plane ticket back to Italy the day of the match-up. She could not have dreamed of advancing to her first US Open final with a chance to eliminate Serena Williams and in the process, prevent a Calendar Grand Slam.
During the match, Williams’ rumored boyfriend and musician, Drake, made an appearance. At one point, Drake was seen getting up and leaving the match following Serena’s struggles. He has since been nicknamed her “Bad Luck Charm.” In addition, reality star Kim Kardashian-West made an appearance at Williams’ tennis match and the two “best friends” went out for a cup of tea the night before the dramatic loss. Williams was also preparing to launch her new HSN clothing collection, Signature Statement, during New York’s Fashion Week.
It appears that Williams’ attention was elsewhere. Perhaps she had too much going on with commercials, the launch of a clothing line and the presence of her family and friends. Yet, the bottom line is Vinci came out on top.
She won by changing up the speed of the ball and with her play in front of the net. Williams may have been distracted, but Vinci went out and focused on playing tennis which requires finesse, strategy and power. Vinci proved that in the game of tennis, even with odds not in your favor, any player at any time has a chance to win. You just have to put the ball in play.