The final two matches of Serena Williams’s tennis career generated huge television ratings. A total of 3.6 million viewers watched Williams’s second round match at the 2022 United States Open against world number two Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, and then 4.6 million watched Williams’s third round match at the 2022 United States Open against Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia. The 4.6 million viewers were the most viewers to have ever watched a tennis match on ESPN. The previous record was 3.9 million viewers in the 2012 Wimbledon Final where Roger Federer of Switzerland defeated Andy Murray of Great Britain 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.
Serena’s final two singles matches
Serena Williams of Saginaw, Michigan, the 23-time grand slam champion, beat Kontaveit 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 on Wednesday. Despite never reaching the semifinals of a grand slam tournament in the past, Kontaveit was ranked second in the world. The high seed for Kontaveit was due to the fact she has won four WTA tournaments since September of 2021. Kontaveit defeated Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-2, 7-5 in the final of the 2021 Ostrava Open in the Czech Republic, Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in the final of the 2021 Kremlin Cup, Simona Halep of Romania 6-2, 6-3 in the final of the 2021 Transylvania Open in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, and Sakkari 5-7, 7-6, 7-5 in the final of the 2022 St. Petersburg Trophy in Russia.
Williams then played her final match on Friday, a 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 loss to Tomljanovic. A major reason why Williams struggled in the match is because she had 51 unforced errors. Tomljanovic reached the quarterfinals on Tuesday, but lost to the fifth seed, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, 6-4, 7-6.
2001 US Open Final
At the 2001 US Open Women’s Final, a remarkable 22.7 million viewers saw Venus Williams beat Serena Williams 6-2, 6-4 on CBS. It was the first women’s final ever to take place at the U.S. Open in American primetime television. It was Venus Williams’s fourth of seven grand slam finals.
Battle of the Sexes
The exhibition match between Americans Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs on September 20, 1973 was seen by an estimated 50 million people. King beat Riggs 6-4, 6-3, 6-3 at the Astrodome in Houston, Texas.