Serena Williams crowd distraction enemies and other players

  • Serena Williams is drawing huge, record-breaking crowds to the 2022 US Open.
  • Both her first- and second-round opponents explained that they struggled with crowd noise.
  • Even players a few courts away from the 23-time Grand Slam champion were distracted by the cheers.

NEW YORK — Serena Williams made an incredibly improbable run at what is likely to be the final tournament of her illustrious professional tennis career at the 2022 US Open.

The crowd noise coming from Arthur Ashe Stadium (where the 23-time Grand Slam champion played her primetime match) was a blast. Interspersed with movie stars, sports icons and even former U.S. presidents, the approximately 30,000 audience chants of encouragement to Williams, flushing his standing during his first two wins at the Meadows. I repeated his ovation.

Fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium rose to their feet when Serena Williams beat Annette Kontaveit.

Fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium rose to their feet when Williams defeated Annette Kontaveit.

AP Photo/Julia Nikinson

Montenegro’s Danka Kovinić and Estonia’s Annette Kontaveit – Williams’ first and second-round opponents respectively – both said they suffered from crowd noise and prejudice during matches against the sport’s all-time champions. Kovinic, who was ranked 80th in the world heading into this year’s US Open, has almost certainly never experienced a match as high-profile and high-profile as Monday night’s opener.

“It was so loud,” Kobinich said with a laugh after the match. It was just one thing, we’ve never had an experience like this.”

“I remember a missed forehand to Serena in the first game. [go up] 1-0, one of which hit the net,” she added. That was the moment when I first realized it. “Okay, if they get this loud, the whole game is going to be a mess.”

Serena Williams.


Jeff Burke – USA TODAY Sports

Meanwhile, Kontavate was ranked No. 2 in the world in Wednesday night’s three-set thriller against the six-time US Open singles champion. The 26-year-old has played many high stakes her matches during her young but impressive career.

Still, that didn’t prepare her for the atmosphere surrounding what was widely expected to be Williams’ final singles match.

“I expected it. I saw it in the last game, but it was hard when I got on the court,” Kontaveit said after Wednesday night’s loss. “I knew it was going to happen, but I don’t think you can learn from other people’s mistakes. To feel that was something I had never experienced before.

Annette Kontaveit (left) shakes hands with Serena Williams after her second round match at the 2022 US Open.

Kontavate (left) shakes hands with Williams after the second round of the 2022 US Open.

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

“Of course it was her moment,” she added, referring to Williams. [but] It’s all about her. I knew it all too well….I think they weren’t rooting for me, they just wanted Serena to win. In other words, I don’t think it’s a personal attack on me or anything. That’s fair—she deserves this. ”

But the player in an enviable position, about 78 feet across the court from Williams, wasn’t the only one affected by the raucous crowd following her movements. Athletes competing simultaneously on adjacent courts could clearly hear the cheers and heckles emanating from Arthur Ashe.

Even those a long way from the US Open’s main stadium (the world’s largest tennis arena) were catching racquets from the other side of the Queen’s ground. Ajra Tomljanovic, the 29-year-old Australian who faces Williams in Friday night’s third round, said she could hear her hustle from outside her court.

Ajla Tomlijanović during her second round match at the 2022 US Open.

Ajla Tomlijanović during her second round match at the 2022 US Open.

Mike Stove/Getty Images

“I was playing Court 7. In the last two games, I was playing with her. I could hear the crowd,” he said. I kept thinking, “Oh my god, that’s bothering me, and I can’t even play against her.”

“When the crowd gets involved, it comes to you,” she added, looking ahead to Friday night’s game. [Raducanu] Winby’s coat 1. I remember finishing that match and thinking, ‘Wow, that was intense. In other words, I was a little worried about the volume of the audience. ”

Tomljanovic plans to borrow a strategy from Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic. Novak Djokovic famously wasn’t cleared for this year’s US Open after refusing to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Serbia's Novak Djokovic reacted during his quarterfinal match against Italy's Lorenzo Sonego on day seven of the Erste Bank Open tennis tournament in the Vienna Stadthalle.

Novak Djokovic.

Getty/Thomas Kronsteiner

The 21-time Grand Slam champion turned himself into a villain as a result.

Tomljanovic said, “I remember Novak saying that when the crowd was against him when they asked him a lot about this, he was just pretending to be for himself. “I don’t know when they chant, Rafa. [Nadal]Roger [Federer]whoever hears him Novak, Novak.

“I liked the reaction,” she added. “Maybe I’ll use it on Friday night.”

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