Serena Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam winner, lost the first set of her US Open match against teenager Caty McNally. She dropped yet another shot and wailed, “I keep missing my forehand!”
Williams was in trouble for a brief moment, against the 17-year-old American player Caty McNally, who is a doubles partners with Coco Gauff. Williams made adjustments to her serve and straightened out her other strokes, she avoided what would have been her earliest loss in 19 appearances at the US Open. Williams beat McNally in a match that ended with scores 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.
"You can’t win tournaments making that many errors. I knew I had to play better, and I knew I could." Williams said.
To which McNally replied, "Obviously, she’s going to pick up her level. I knew that was going to happen. Next time, I just have to raise my level with hers."
Williams thrashed long-time rival Maria Sharapova in the opening round on August 26 but was given a much sterner test by McNally. The 17-year-old had never won a match at any major tournament until Monday. She is ranked 121 and received a wild-card invitation from the US Tennis Association for singles and doubles with 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff.
McNally charged the net, serving-and-volleying, Williams never looked uncomfortable ever before, she took time to get into a real groove. She went stretches without being the dominant force. Williams improved to 38-0 in the first two rounds. The only time she was beaten as early as the third round in New York was in her tournament debut all the way back in 1998 when she was just 16 herself. In 1999, Williams won the first of her six US Open championships.
McNally admitted that she played against the greatest players of all times and was super happy that she could get one set from Williams. “That’s something that not very many people do.” McNally said.
“Actually, I’d rather not be tested in every match. But that doesn’t happen. So it’s important for me to have those, like, really rough, rowdy matches," Williams said.
McNally's mother, Lynn Nabors-McNally, who also helps her coach, was very proud of Caty as this was her second Grand Slam. She believed that it was a great stepping stone for her and has a lot to look forward to.
(Inputs from AP)