First set: Williams/Williams 3-3 Noskova/Hradecka* (* Indicates servers)
Noskova is playing quite well, considering her lack of experience. And just as I write she doubles faults at 40-0. Serena sneaked onto the court on the second serve and it might have shaken the 17-year-old a bit. But this one is still served.
First set: *Williams/Williams 3-2 Noskova/Hradecka (* Indicates servers)
Venus serves. The Americans jump to a 30-0 lead and consolidate it with a punishing serve to the body that is too good for Noskova. A nice moment for the teenager to come though when she exchanges a series of fiery forehands with Venus, only 25 years her senior. She also wins the point and we are soon at two. A double fault brings up a break point for the Czechs, which Venus saves with a good serve that Hradecka floats long. Venus hits another double fault – her serve is a bit erratic today – but in the end it’s another Williams hold.
First set: Williams/Williams 2-2 Noskova/Hradecka* (* Indicates servers)
Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula are the No2 seeds in the women’s doubles. Or they WERE: they just lost to the Canadian/Australian duo of Leylah Annie Fernandez and Daria Saville. Fernandez, you may recall, reached the singles final last year.
Back on Arthur Ashe, Noskova serves and falls to the court at 30-15. She goes down for a few moments but soon enough gets back up, and holds service.
First set: *Williams/Williams 2-1 Noskova/Hradecka (* Indicates servers)
Serena’s turn to serve. And she continues her form from yesterday as the Williams race out to a 40-15 lead. But a double fault lets the Czechs back in and we’re soon in deuces. But some strong serves from Serena sealed the game for the Americans.
First set: Williams/Williams 1-1 Noskova/Hradecka* (* Indicates servers)
The teenager Noskova serves first for the Czechs – youth knows no fear, etc. She sends down an ace to make it 30-15, so not a bad decision at all. Another good serve helps close out the game.
First set: *Williams/Williams 1-0 Nosková/Hradecká (* Indicates servers)
Nosková took a bathroom break before the match even started. But you would also be nervous to face the Williams sisters. Anyway, Venus serves Noskova first. The experienced Hradecká throws a volley into the net, maybe she has nerves too, to give the Americans a 15-0 lead. Venus has a few issues with her pitching early – it’s a still night and the sun is setting so there’s no problem with the conditions. No matter, they hold quite easily and they are on the board.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands is in the ESPN booth and played the Williams sisters in doubles. She says the sisters are fame players based on their dual skills alone. Mattek-Sands also compliments Hradecká’s serve, which she rates as one of the best on tour.
And the players are out on the court. First comes the Czech team of Linda Nosková and Lucie Hradecká to… maybe four cheers. I imagine the next pair will get a slightly louder reception. But first we get a video presentation in which we’re told the Williamses are pretty good at tennis, all things considered. This is good information to know ahead of time.
And then they’re out: Venus in white and green, and Serena in black. And yes, there are many cheers. Although I wouldn’t say it’s deafening, perhaps considering that this is doubles and the stands are not yet full, as the evening session crowd slowly trickles in. Maybe they’re still over the road watching the Mets at CitiField (the Mets beat. the Dodgers 5-3 in the 8th, if you want to know. Which you probably don’t).
The Williamses opponents tonight is a mixture of youth and experience. Linda Nosková is only 17 years old and this is her first appearance at a grand slam doubles event. She is currently ranked outside the Top 200 in doubles, although that may be due to her inexperience rather than any lack of ability. Her partner is a veteran of the circuit though. At 37 years old, Lucie Hradecká has been a professional for 18 years, and has two grand slam doubles titles, including the US Open in 2013. She may be past her prime, but she is still a Top 20 player in doubles, so this match will be . no walking for the Williamses.
We’ve talked a lot about Serena’s likely retirement after the US Open, but is this the last time we see venus? She is, after all, the older sister and has barely played in the last year due to injury. When she lost to Alison van Uytvanck in the first round of the singles here in New York, she was asked about her future and simply said: “Right now I’m just focusing on the doubles.”
Amid Serena’s brilliance it’s easy to forget just how good Venus has been over the years. This was her 91st appearance in a major singles event, a record in the Open era. She has also won Wimbledon five times, behind only Martina Navratilova (nine), Serena (seven) and Steffi Graf (seven). Oh, and her record in Flushing Meadows isn’t bad either: she won the singles title twice in the early 2000s and the doubles twice.
Venus and Serena Williams are now 40 and 42 respectively, so they are no longer quite at the peak of their careers – although one of them has just beaten the world No. 2 – but in their day they were arguably the most impressive doubles team in history. how good Their all-time record in grand slams as a team is 125-14. At the Olympics it’s 15-1, and in tournament finals it’s a ridiculous 22-1.
In total they won 14 grand slam titles as doubles partners (to go with their only 30 singles titles). It’s actually been a while since they played together in a grand slam – they reached the third round of the French Open in 2018. Their last grand slam doubles title came in 2016 at Wimbledon.
So, what are their chances this time? If Serena’s remarkable run in the singles continues, it would not be a surprise if she withdraws from the doubles to conserve energy. But make no mistake, even in their 40s, the sisters are capable of making a deep run.