Serena Williams and sister Venus lost on Thursday evening in the first round of the doubles at the US Open to the Czech pair Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova 7-6 (5), 6-4 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Ashe had never hosted a first-round doubles—women’s or men’s, night or day—until this one featuring two American sisters who have won 14 Grand Slam titles in doubles together, but teamed up for the first time since the 2018 . French Open.
This was their fourth doubling first-round defeat at a Slam; the most recent was at the 2013 French Open.
As usual when playing together, they exchanged fist punches or palms and talked between points; they smiled as they sat in their seats talking during the switchovers. When the match ended, the sisters hugged. They left the room with a standing ovation.
“I’m still in shock that we won,” Hradecka said in an interview on the track right after the game.
She told the crowd, “I’m so sorry to you that we beat them, but we’re so glad we did.”
An announced sale of 23,859 showed up, as did each of Serena’s two singles wins so far this week, though fans on Thursday weren’t as rambunctious as they had been for those other nighttime games involving a player who has let hint that this will happen. be the last event of her career. Serena plays against Ajla Tomljanovic . on Friday evening in the third round of singles; Venus lost in the first round of that series.
The doubles spectators saved their biggest cheers for some of Serena’s best efforts, be it aces or putaways or an on-the-run forehand winner. The sisters went up 5-4 early and had two set points on Noskova’s serve, but were also unable to convert.
Probably the loudest moment came after a 19-stroke run by the sisters in the first set tiebreak, with three swinging volleys from Serena. That gave them a 4-3 lead and soon it was 5-3.
But Hradecka and Noskova took the next four points to claim that set. They then jumped 3-0 into the second, and after the Williams sisters made it 4-all, the Czech team pulled away.
Williams’ siblings received a wildcard for doubles this year. Serena, who turns 41 next month, and Venus, who turned 42 in June, won doubles trophies at the US Open in 1999 — the year Serena won her first major singles trophy at age 17 in New York — and 2009.
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 2011 French Open. Noskova (17) made her Grand Slam debut in doubles.
“Playing against the Williams sisters,” said Noskova, “is a special moment for everyone.”