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The 2021 US Open Women's Singles final between 18-year-old Emma Raducanu and 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez was one of the most anticipated Grand Slam tournaments in recent history. It was the first all-teenage final since the 1999 US Open and the first major final — men or women — since 1968 to feature two unranked players.
Both teens fought hard for the coveted championship, played at New York's Arthur Ashe Stadium on September 11, 2021. But in the end, it was Raducanu who prevailed, with a decisive 6-4, 6-3 win.
"I've loved playing in front of you, and you really inspired me on in some difficult moments," the smiling teen told the roaring crowd.
Raducanu's fairy tale ending in New York is remarkable given that until three months ago, she had never played in a professional tour-level event. This was because the youngster had taken 18 months off from tennis — first due to the pandemic, and then to study for her high school degree. In case you are wondering, she aced the finals!
The 18-year-old was ranked 150th in the world when she arrived in New York City in mid-August. This meant she had to win three matches to even qualify for the US Open. But the teen rapidly zipped past her fellow hopefuls without losing a single match. She then decisively defeated six more experienced opponents in the US Open to reach, and win, the championship against the equally formidable Fernandez.
Raducanu's win is history-making in numerous ways. She is the first qualifier — for men or women— to win one of the four major tournaments that make up the Grand Slam. This includes the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. She is also the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles trophy since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977. The teenager is the youngest female Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova, who was 17 when she won Wimbledon in 2004. Even more impressive, she achieved the feat without dropping a set. This means she won all 20 sets, starting from the qualifying rounds!
Her opponent, Fernandez — who celebrated her 19th birthday during the US Open — was no slouch either. En-route to the final, the ever-smiling Canadian teenager toppled three top-5 players. Among them was Ashleigh Barty, the world's number one player and 2021 Wimbledon champion. Though disappointed at the outcome, Fernandez promised the cheering New York crowd that she would return to win the "right trophy."
The US Open Men's Singles final on September 12, 2021, did not have the historical ending Novak Djokovic had hoped for. The veteran tennis player was on his way to making history by winning all four Grand Slam events in a calendar year. Australian tennis legend Rod Laver was the last male tennis player to achieve the feat in 1969. Unfortunately, Djokovic's quest was cut short by Russia's Daniil Medvedev, who defeated the 20-time Grand Slam tournament winner in three decisive sets.
Resources: CNN.com, USOpen.org, Sportingnews.com,