Serena Williams’ pulling power accentuated as final US Open match breaks US TV viewing record

Serena Williams farewell

Serena Williams will go down as one of greatest athletes ever to grace the planet and her influence on tennis can never be overstated with the latest tennis viewing figures for ESPN backing up her popularity.

The broadcaster has released its viewing figures for the 23-time Grand Slam winner’s final match at the US Open and it shattered the previous tennis TV record as it is now comfortably the most-watched tennis event on record since ESPN started showing tennis 43 years ago.

An average of 4.6 million viewers (P2+) tuned in to watch Williams’ three-set defeat at the hands of Ajla Tomljanovich from Australia on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday.

Roger Federer’s 2012 Wimbledon final victory over Andy Murray was the previous record as it attracted an average audience of 3.9 million.

A statement from ESPN added: “The Primetime telecast on ESPN was the best ESPN tennis telecast on record and was the most viewed telecast of the day for broadcast and cable networks in total viewers and all key male and person demos.

“Serena’s match averaged 4.8 million viewers from 7:15 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. ET and peaked with 6.9 million viewers in the 10:15 p.m. quarter-hour.”

Williams’ other matches at Flushing Meadows also attracted big audiences as her second-round win over Anett Kontaveit averaged 3.6 million viewers and peaked with five million while her victory over Danka Kovinic in the first round averaged 2.7 million fans.

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The former world No 1 teamed up with her sister Venus in the women’s doubles and even though they lost in the first round their match averaged 2.2 million viewers on ESPN2’s Primetime, the third-most viewed third-round telecast ever on ESPN.

Back in 2001, the US Open women’s final between Serena and Venus became the first-ever Grand Slam women’s final to be aired in prime time on CBS in the United States as Venus beat Serena 6-2, 6-4.

Serena had announced in the lead-up to the season-ending hard-court Grand Slam that she would be “evolving away from tennis” following nearly three full decades at the top.

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However, following her exit from the US Open she joked that she could play at the Australian Open, saying: “I don’t know. I’m not thinking about that. I always did love Australia, though.”

She added: “I mean, I’m literally playing my way into this and getting better. I should have started sooner this year! I don’t think so, but you never know. I don’t know.”