Serena Williams, winner of the 1999 US Open

From The Bud Collins History of tennis:

The words of Richard Williams that kid sister is the more talented of the two began to ring true.

Seventh-seed Serena, 17, became the first Williams to win a major singles title, and the first black since Althea Gibson at Forest Hills in 1958 to take a major female championship. Her run to the title was not a cake walk.
In the third round, she was on the brink of defeat against 16-year-old Belgian Kim Clijsters, a future Open champion, with Clijsters leading 5-3 in the final set before Serena won 16 of last 17 points to close, 4-6 6-2 7-5.
In the round of 16, Serena rallied from a set down to top Conchita Martinez, 4-6 6-2 6-2. Facing Monica Seles in the quarters, Serena dropped the first set again before recording a 4-6 6-3 6-2 victory. Next on her agenda was defending champion Davenport. Serena took that one 6-4 1-6 6-4.

Serena had played 16 sets, but she was ready for the final against top-seeded Hingis, winner of a bruising battle over big sister Venus 6-1 4-6 6-3 the day before that shut off a prospective all-Williams final.
Hingis took too much out of herself in that strenuous showdown, and Serena was just hitting her stride. Williams led 3-6 3-5 15-40, double match point against an overwhelmed Hingis, but Martina refused to walk away. She took three games in a row and was two points from parity at one set all. Hingis led 6-5 30-0 but Serena rekindled her energy and enthusiasm and came away with a 6-3 7-6(4) victory in her first major final.

As Serena finished off Hingis, big sister Venus watched from the stands, wearing a bittersweet expression. She had been expected to win a big championship before Serena, but the following afternoon the two sisters joined forces to capture the doubles title over Chanda Rubin and Sandrine Testud 4-6 6-1 6-4.

Boris Becker at the 1989 US Open

Two months after their wins at Wimbledon, Steffi Graf and Boris Becker, who know each other since childhood captured the US Open crown.

From The Bud Collins History of tennis:

Becker and Graf had been raised in nearby towns in the southeastern corner of West Germany and had known each other since they were children.

“I used to be the worst in the boys and she was the best in the girls,” Becker recalled with good humor. “So, when I was maybe nine and she was eight, I would have to hit with her.”

Each had to grown up to be a Wimbledon champion but not in the same year. In 1989, on the All England Club, they became the Teutonic Twosome. Even the weather cooperated, in a fashion. Rain pushed back the women’s final one day so that Graf and Becker might receive their awards at Centre Court on the same afternoon.

Graf and Becker each left Flushing Meadow with another major title. They had to work harder than at Wimbledon, and they had to share the spotlight with a departing champion.
Graf was severely tested twice, by Sabatini in the semifinals, 3-6 6-4 6-2, and, once again by Navratilova in the ultimate match. Navratilova appeared to have the final won on at least a couple of occasions. She was only two games from victory in the second set – confidently, prematurely waving two fingers at friends in the stands – before double-faulting away a service game. Then she had a break point for a 5-4 lead and squandered that. Seeing the opening, Graf mobilized her gifts and won, 3-6 7-5 6-1.

“I was so close,” said Navratilova, her face streaked with tears. “I was as close as you get.”

Becker almost didn’t make it out of the second round, where he faced two match points against vagabond Derrick Rostagno in a fourth-set tiebreaker. On the second, his running forehand ticked the net and hopped over the Californian’s waiting racket. Becker took that bit of luck and won the next two points for the set, and the arduous match that had looked lost long before, 1-6 6-7 6-3 7-6 6-3.

Connors‘ 16th trip to the quarters was unrewarded as Agassi made a surprising charge to score his own first victory in a five-set trial 6-1 4-6 0-6 6-3 6-4. Jimmy, with the crowd straining behind him, gave them hope as Andre served for it at 5-2. Flashing the old moxie, the champ seized nine of 10 points to 5-4 0-15 – but had nothing more to give. McEnroe, seeded fourth, didn’t get that far, banished from the second round by a qualifier, number 110 Paul Haarhuis 6-4 4-6 6-3 7-5. “Where are you from?” a reporter asked the anonymous Dutchman. “Mars”, was the smiling reply, and Mac may have believed it.
Defending champ Wilander, fifth-seeded, undoubtedly wondered about the provenance of his kid conqueror, 5-7 6-3 1-6 6-1 6-4, also in the second round. The 18-year-old’s name was Pete Sampras, who in 12 months would illuminate the Meadow, and continue to do so, passing Mac and Wilander, Connors and others in the matter of majors – eventually holding the record himself at 14.

Lendl took care of Agassi in one semi, 7-6 6-1 3-6 6-1, and Becker cruised past Aaron Krickstein in the other, 6-4 6-3 6-4. In the final, Becker needed three hours and 51 minutes to defeat Lendl, 7-6 1-6 6-3 7-6.
Ivan was appearing in his eighth consecutive final, a Tilden-tying achievement. But after Becker got a full head of serving-and-volleying steam, neither Ivan nor the ghost of Big Bill could stop him. “He just has more power in his game than I do.” Lendl said. For Becker, the victory proved he was more than splendor in the grass, that he was able to be a world-class field somewhere other than Wimbledon. He had filled in the gaps in his game since the summer of ’85, firmed his groundstrokes along with his tenacity. Now he was a worthy challenger for the honor of top-ranked men’s player on the planet.

“If I’m not number one,” he said, “then I’m quite close to it.”

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Stefanos Tsitsipas US Open outfit

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