It was a fairytale ending for Italy’s Flavia Pennetta Saturday at the 2015 U.S. Open.
Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci, conqueror of Serena Williams’ bid for a calendar year grand slam, played a final that was and will forever be unsurpassed for its level of sportsmanship. But that has always been Flavia Pennetta, one of the greatest ambassadors in the game of women’s tennis. And so it’s fitting, in this and so many ways, that today was her day, in Flushing, in Queens, at a tournament the veteran Italian has played so well on so many occasions.
Pennetta won, 7-6 6-2, but the score was almost an afterthought. Vinci was understandably gassed from her massive upset of Williams the day before, but the day was a coronation for Flavia, surgical in her shotmaking, effective with her serve, and constructing some of the most beautiful points seen in the US Open final in years. This all-Italian final was special, indeed, as the two friends shared hugs and laughs during the award ceremony, moments before Flavia dropped a bombshell on us all by announcing her retirement, then, with her beautiful smile, telling us not to be sad, that this was a reason to be happy.
Fitting that the first Italian to make it the top 10 should win a grand slam, should do it at the ripe old age of thirty three and a half, should do it after injuries that nearly ended her playing career, should do it as after falling out of the top 100 and bouncing back, should do it as a literal afterthought in this year’s Open in light of all of the talk of the Serena Calendar Year Slam, and then should walk away, Clint Eastwood style, into the sunset, immediately after hoisting her own US Open trophy. Yes, it was one of those emotional, Italian kind of days at the Open. One of the great days women’s tennis has seen in a long time.
Forza Flava! Congratulations to you. Thank you for the inspiration you’ve provided so many through the years. And thank you for the memories.