Friday, September 18, 2015

Yes, folks, fairytales do come true at the U.S. Open

Flavia Pennetta / Unlikely but refreshing rise to the top; going out a champion.

Yes, folks, fairytales do come true -- even in tennis.

One need only look at Flavia Pennetta's unlikely rise to the top in winning the 2015 U.S. Open women's singles championship last Saturday over her long-time friend and former childhood doubles partner, Roberta Vinci. It was a refreshing conclusion to what had been a tense and anxious two weeks of hard-court tennis that included Serena Williams' dream of winning all four Grand Slams (Australian, French, Wimbledon, U.S. Open) during the same calendar year crushed only 24 hours earlier by Vinci in an improbable three-set defeat. It came after Pennetta upset No. 2 seed Simona Halep in the other semifinal.

When the 23rd-seeded Penneta beat the unseeded Vinci 7-6 (4), 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first All-Italian U.S. Open, she became a first-time Grand Slam champion. It broke a string of four straight Grand Slams won by Williams. The Pennetta-Vinci match was a throwback to what tennis once was circa the 1970s: lots of serve and volley, one-handed backhands, drop volleys, angled shots and, best of all, no grunting.

Joy and jubilitation /
Pennetta (right) is embraced by Vinci at the net.
As one might imagine, the scene at the net with Pannetta and Vinci turned into a celebration of unadulterated joy and jubilation. It showed on their faces. It showed in their body language, too, which included a long and embracing hug.

There were plenty of tears to go around for everyone to share.

Pennetta's triumph at the U.S. Open was witnessed by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who flew across the Atlantic from Italy on short notice just to watch the final. He brought along Pennetta's fiancé, Fabio Fognini, himself a tennis pro, who earlier in the tournament banished Rafael Nadal in the third round before bowing in the next round. He had flown home to prepare for Italy's Davis Cup tie this weekend.

Roberta Vinci (left) and Flavia Pennetta /
Happy together during the trophy presentation.
During the post-match awards presentation on the court, the 26th-ranked Pennetta (she rose to No. 8 with her U.S. Open triumph) shared a confession with the sell-out crowd.

"Before I started this tournament, like one month ago, I made a big decision in my life," she said. "This is the way I would like to say goodbye to tennis."

Pennetta, who at the tennis-old age of 33 years and 201 days, shockingly announced her retirement from tennis. She revealed her news to Vinci just prior to the trophy presentation while the two were seated on chairs together at court side sharing a moment of laughter.

Pennetta will finish her off her tennis commitments by playing in a few tournaments in Europe and Asia this fall, then call it a career year's end.

"I'm really happy," she admitted. "It's what all players think to want to do, going out with this kind of big trophy. ... I can't think to finish a better way."

So, just what does Pennetta plan to do with her life after tennis?

"I would like to have a family in the future," she said, during a post-match press conference, "but it's not something I would love to have right now." First is "to know who I am," away from tennis, "what I like to do" and "how is the life with Fabio going to be."

Photos: Courtesy of Google Images. Video: Courtesy of YouTube.

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