‘Calm’ Emma Raducanu sees off Serena Williams: ‘It was a true honour to share the court with her’

Emma Raducanu plays a shot

Emma Raducanu produced a mature display in the much-hyped clash against the retiring Serena Williams and had nothing but praise for the tennis great after winning in straight sets at the Western & Southern Open.

With former world No 1 Williams announcing last week that she is stepping away from tennis in the next few months following nearly three decades at the top, all eyes were naturally going to be on her first-ever encounter with reigning US Open champion Raducanu.

But the match failed to live up pre-match fanfare as it was the new guard who came out on top with a dominant 6-4, 6-0 victory in just over an hour on Centre Court in Cincinnati.

Having struggled for form herself in recent months – losing her opener at the Canadian Open and in the quarter-final at the Citi Open, Raducanu put in a confidence boosting display from start to finish.

The 10th seed broke the 23-time Grand Slam winner’s serve in the opening game of the match and doubled up in game five with a second break. There was a glimmer of hope for Williams as she got one break back in game six, but Raducanu went on to serve out the set.

It was one-way traffic in the second set with the British No 1 break in games one, three and five before serving the match out to love.

Raducanu paid tribute to the former world No 1 during her post-match court interview.

“I think we all need to just honour Serena and her amazing career,” the 19-year-old said.

“I’m so grateful for the experience of being able to play her and for our careers to cross over.

“Everything that she’s achieved is so inspirational and it was a true honour to share the court with her.”

She added: “I think from the beginning to the end, I maybe looked calm, but I just knew how important every single point was, because you let up a little bit and she’s going to be all over you. She’s just such a legend.”

The match will no doubt give Raducanu a bit more belief ahead of her US Open title defence with the tournament starting on August 29.

However, the draw doesn’t get easier at this week’s WTA 1000 event as the teenager will face another former world No 1 in the second round in Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Kaia Kanepi 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

The winner of the Raducanu-Azarenka encounter will take on either seventh seed Jessica Pegula or qualifier Marta Kostyuk for a place in the quarter-final.

Also in Section 3 of the bottom half of the draw, Serena’s older sister Venus Williams also bowed out in the first round as the former world No 1 and seven-time Grand Slam winner went down 7-5, 6-1 against 14th seed Karolina Pliskova.

Qualifier Caroline Garcia provided the upset in the section as the Frenchwoman defeated fourth seed Maria Sakkari 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (6-8), 6-1 in the second round and she will face the winner of the Pliskova-Elese Mertens clash.