Serena Williams’ final match at the US Open, and likely the last of her career, shattered an ESPN record last week.
Williams’ match against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday in Round 3 of the US Open marked the most-watched tennis match ever on ESPN, according to The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan. The match drew 4.6 million viewers and peaked at 6.9 million.
Serena Williams' Friday match on ESPN – apparently the last in her career--is the most-watched tennis telecast ever on ESPN at 4.6 million viewers. The previous record, 3.9 million, was for the 2012 Wimbledon men's final. Serena’s match peaked at 6.9 million viewers.
— Daniel Kaplan (@KaplanSportsBiz) September 6, 2022
The previous record on the network, per Kaplan, came in 2012 for the Wimbledon men’s final. That match, in which Roger Federer beat Andy Murray, drew 3.9 million.
Tomljanovic beat Williams in a thrilling three-hour battle on Friday night at the US Open 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 6-1. Williams has said that the US Open will almost certainly mark the end of her playing career, which made for an emotional scene at Arthur Ashe Stadium following her loss.
Considering what she has accomplished — Williams won 23 Grand Slam titles, 71 singles titles and spent 319 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world — it made sense.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2022
"Thank you so much, you guys were amazing today. I wish I played a little bit better. Thank you, Daddy, I know you're watching. Thanks, Mom," Williams said on the court. "I just thank everyone that's here, that's been on my side so many years, decades. Oh my gosh, literally decades. But it all started with my parents, and they deserve everything, so I'm really grateful for them.
"These are happy tears, I guess! I don't know. And I wouldn't be Serena if there wasn't Venus, so thank you Venus."