Emma Raducanu, an 18-year-old from Romania, made history on Wednesday by becoming the youngest player to ever compete in a US Open women’s singles final.
Emma Raducanu made professional tennis history by booking a meeting with Leylah Fernandez in a historic women’s singles final at a US Open unlike any other.
Raducanu, 18, beat Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in the second women’s semifinal in New York on Thursday night. She will compete against Fernandez, 19, in the women’s final on Saturday afternoon. Serena Williams (17) and Martina Hingis (18) will meet for the first time in a major singles final since Serena Williams (17) beat Martina Hingis (18) in the 1999 US Open women’s final.
As historic as this moment is — and as much of a blockbuster event it will be for women’s tennis, which is always on the lookout for telegenic and charismatic new stars with Serena Williams on the decline — it is amplified a million times over by a mind-blowing fact associated with Raducanu’s victory.
Both women are adolescents who have shocked the tennis world by reaching the final, so it’s natural to assume they’re creating similar tales, which is true to an unquestionable degree. Nonetheless, although Fernandez’s run is amazing, fantastic, and every other superlative one can think of, Raducanu’s journey to Saturday’s final has many historical implications.
The Open Era of professional tennis started in 1968, when the four major tournaments — which had previously only been open to amateurs — decided to allow professional players to compete in their events, thus the title “Open tennis.” The sport, especially the US Open, welcomed professionals who had spent decades traveling the globe to compete for small financial prizes in basketball gyms, hockey rinks, and any other venue willing to transform itself into a tennis court for a few days.
A qualifier has never reached the final of a major event in the 53 years since the Open Era began in 1968. Before a major tournament’s 128-player, seven-round main draw starts, qualifiers must win three matches. Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier in tennis history to reach a major final in the Open Era at the US Open.
Raducanu has won nine matches in three weeks to reach the final on Saturday, a completely unique feat in tennis. As a qualifier, Nadia Podoroska of Argentina reached the semifinals of the French Open last year, and a few other qualifiers have reached the semifinals previously, but Raducanu is the first to reach the final.
Emma Raducanu becomes the first qualifier to reach a major final in the Open Era of professional tennis.
In all the apparent ways, it’s extraordinary, and it’s hard to comprehend. #USOPEN
10 September 2021 — Matt Zemek (@mzemek)
Also, get this: The women’s final at the US Open on Saturday has two competitors whose COMBINED ages aren’t quite as old as the best woman’s tennis player of all time:
Serena Williams is older than the COMBINED ages of the two women’s finals.
One of a slew of mind-boggling Saturday facts. #USOPEN is a hashtag that stands for the United States of America being open to all possibilities. https://t.co/7rXHhYupIS
10 September 2021 — Matt Zemek (@mzemek)
Another amazing statistic regarding the US Open on Saturday:
Someone else mentioned it, but it’s crazy that the women’s final will be held on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, which precedes both finalists in the #USOpenTennis.
10 September 2021 — Jon Wertheim (@jon wertheim)
On Saturday at the US Open, history will be made when a teenager becomes the first teenager to win a major championship. Furthermore, Raducanu, who is rated No. 150, and Fernandez, who is ranked No. 73, will produce one of the lowest average rankings (112) for a major final in tennis history.
This isn’t simply a case of two youngsters competing for a major title; this is tennis history on a scale we’ve never seen before in many respects. The US Open of 2021 was one for the record books. Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez will compete on Saturday for a memory that the winner will cherish.