By MITCH STACY – AP Sportswriter
MASON, Ohio (AP) — The second leg of Serena Williams’ farewell tour was short.
Williams, 40, has fallen 0-2 in games since announcing ‘the countdown has begun’ on her career, losing 6-4, 6-0 to US Open champion Emma Raducanu at the Western and Southern Open on Tuesday night.
Williams said last week in a Vogue magazine essay and Instagram post that her career was coming to an end, although she did not explicitly say that the US Open, which begins August 29 in New York, would be her last tournament.
The Cincinnati event was the second US Open tune-up for Williams, and the next time she takes to the court will be at Flushing Meadows. She lost to Belinda Bencic in straight sets last week in Toronto. A day before the announcement, Williams beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz for her first win since Roland Garros 2021.
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Williams is a 23-time Grand Slam champion, most recently in 2017 at the Australian Open when she was pregnant with her daughter Olympia. She said wanting to expand her family was a big reason she planned to move away.
Raducanu, ranked No. 19 in the world, was snappy as she dispatched Williams – and quieted the vocally pro-Williams crowd – in 1 hour and 5 minutes.
“I can’t believe I just played against Serena Williams,” the 19-year-old Raducanu said. “It’s something that I think I’m really lucky to have been able to do, and to have our careers cross over when there’s such a big (age) gap and to see her grow. , it was an amazing experience to play her.”
Williams did not speak to reporters after the match.
Fans cheered heartily when Williams was introduced, and again when she earned her first point on a Raducanu error in game two. Williams screamed in frustration as she double faulted and screamed even louder and raised her fist as she won the third game of the first set.
“I just knew how important every point was because you let go a bit, yeah she’s going to be all over you,” Raducanu said. “She’s just such a legend.”
Trailing 2-0 in the first set, they fought back at 4-3 then 5-4, but Raducanu closed the set for love. Raducanu went from there, with Williams looking frustrated and even resigned towards the end.
Williams was sidelined for a year with a hamstring tear suffered last year at Wimbledon, and her career-ending injuries contributed to the inconsistency on the court.
The players thrilled the crowd with a thrilling exchange in game five of the second set, won by Williams with a forehand volley. But she double faulted on the next point about to be broken.
She briskly left the pitch after the match, waving to the crowd as she walked out.
“I think the crowd was pretty electric,” Raducanu said. “The stadium was really packed, and even though they were cheering on Serena…I was prepared for it.”
Raducanu, who will face veteran Victoria Azarenka in the second round on Wednesday, has not won a title since her unexpected triumph at the US Open last year.
On the men’s side, top-ranked Russian Daniil Medvedev advanced to the third round, beating 24th-placed Botic van de Zandschlup 6-4, 7-5.
Medvedev, banned from Wimbledon for his country’s invasion of Ukraine, had just suffered a second-round loss to Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios last week in Canada.
Kyrgios beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5, 6-4 on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was eliminated by Shuai Zhang, 6-4, 7-5.
The tournament lost another big name, Coco Gauff, when she withdrew from her match against qualifier Marie Bouzkova due to a left ankle injury. Gauff had his ankle bandaged after the first set and retired after the first game of the second set.
Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Williams’ older sister Venus. Bencic fell to Sorana Cirstea, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4.
Rafael Nadal, sidelined since withdrawing from Wimbledon with a torn abdominal, trained in front of a large crowd. The 22-time Grand Slam champion is set to face Borna Corcic on Wednesday.
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