14-year-old Serena Williams makes her professional debut, losing in the first round of the Quebec City tournament’s qualifyings to Anne Miller 6-1 6-1.

Robin Finn of the New York Times wrote: “Instead of a stadium showcase, she competed on a regulation practice court at a tennis club in suburban Vanier, side by side with another qualifying match. There were no spotlights, no introductions, not even any fans. Her court was set a level below a smoky lounge bar that held a bar, a big-screen television, an ice cream cart and 50 or so onlookers with varying stages of interest in her fate.”

Serena: “I felt bad out there because I lost. I didn’t play like I meant to play. I played kind of like an amateur.”

Anne Miller: “I guess I played a celebrity… She has as much power as anybody around, but maybe she needs to play some junior events the way Anna Kournikova has to learn how to become match-tough. There really is no substitute for the real thing. I felt like a complete veteran compared to her.”

A year before, Serena’s older sister Venus had defeated the world’s 58th-ranked player, Shaun Stafford, in straight sets in her pro debut in Oakland, then led No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez 6-2, 3-1 before losing in three sets.

Serena did not play another pro event for another 17 months, when, in her fifth tournament back, she dispatched Monica Seles along with Mary Pierce in Chicago. She captured her first WTA title in 1999 in Paris, defeating Amelie Mauresmo in the final.

Anne Miller left the tour to return to college 3 years after her victory over Serena. She is now a stay-at-home mom in Portland and on the board of directors for a local nonprofit.

Sources: On this day in tennis history by Randy Walker, ESPNW

Roberta Vinci, 2015 US Ope,
Roberta Vinci’s road to the final
Round Opponent Score
R1 Vania King 6-4 6-4
R2 Denisa Allertova 2-6 6-3 6-1
R3 Mariana Duque-Marino 6-1 5-7 6-2
R4 Eugenie Bouchard [25] wo
QF Kristina Mladenovic 6-3 5-7 6-4
SF Serena Williams [1] 2-6 6-4 6-4

Roberta Vinci defeated just one seeded player en route to her first Grand Slam final, but what a win it was! In one of the greatest upsets in tennis history, she beat world No 1 Serena Williams in three sets and ended her Grand Slam dream.

This is the best match that I played in my life. At the end when I made a break, 4-3, and served, I was a little bit scared. But in my mind, I say, ‘Don’t think about this, because maybe you have more pressure. Stay calm, relax, and breathe during every single point. Don’t think that you have Serena on the other side of the court.

She will face Flavia Pennetta, with whom she won the Roland Garros junior doubles title, in an all-Italian final.

“It’s an incredible moment, but one Italian will win for sure,” said Vinci.

Flavia Pennetta’s road to the final

Flavia Pennetta - US Open Tennis 2015

Round Opponent Score
R1 Jarmila Gajdosova 6-2 3-6 6-1
R2 Monica Niculescu 6-1 6-4
R3 Petra Cetkovska 1-6 6-1 6-4
R4 Sam Stosur [22] 6-4 6-4
QF Petra Kvitova [5] 4-6 6-4 6-2
SF Simona Halep [2] 6-1 6-3

After victories over 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur and 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Flavia made a quick work of world number 2 Simona Halep in the semifinal. She was surprised by her own performance:

I never thought I’d be so far in the tournament, so it’s something special. I didn’t play really well in the last week and the feeling was not that good. I just come here and try to practice, try to find the good feeling with the ball, with the atmosphere here, and everything seems to be working.

Flavia Pennetta – Roberta Vinci head to head: 5-4

Flavia leads their head to head 5-4 but it seems tough to designate a favorite: nerves will play a big part in this match as they both will play their first Grand Slam final ever.

Year Tournament Surface Winner Score
2013 US Open QF Hard Flavia Pennetta 6-4 6-1
2010 Roland Garros R64 Clay Flavia Pennetta 6-1 6-1
2009 Tokyo R64 Hard Roberta Vinci 6-1 6-2
2009 Palermo R16 Clay Flavia Pennetta 7-5 6-1
2009 Barcelona R16 Clay Roberta Vinci 6-1 6-2
2007 Acapulco R16 Clay Flavia Pennetta 6-0 6-2
2007 Bogota SF Clay Roberta Vinci 3-6 7-6 6-2
2005 Palermo QF Clay Flavia Pennetta 6-1 4-6 7-6
2003 Ortisei R32 Carpet Roberta Vinci 2-6 7-6 6-3

Roberta or Flavia? Anything can happen today, but the only sure thing is one of the two will become the 4th Grand Slam singles champion from Italy after Nicola Pietrangeli, Adriano Panatta and Francesca Schiavone. The winner will also be the oldest first-time Grand Slam champion.

Photo credit: Maryland Male, Richard Wentworth

Serena Williams, 2015 US Open

The new generation of American players is still not ready to dethrone Serena. Madison Keys lost in straight sets 3-6 3-6 to the world number one, who will face big sis Venus for a place in the semifinals.

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

Madison Keys
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Serena Williams and Bethanie Mattek Sands

Serena came back from a set down to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 7-5 6-0. She’ll next face Madison Keys and could face big sister Venus in the quarterfinals.

US Tennis Open 2015 041

US Tennis Open 2015 042

US Tennis Open 2015 047
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Arthur Ashe Kids Day

Serena, Rafa, Roger, Novak, they all took part to the traditional charity event that mix tennis and entertainement, and judging by their big smiles, they had a great time:

Youngers cheer; oldsters chatter

Arthur Ashe Kids' Day

Arthur Ashe Kids' Day
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Serena Williams Greatness Collection

To celebrate Serena Williams’ phenomenal season, NikeCourt introduces the “Greatness Collection.”

The Greatness Collection features three footwear silhouettes: the NikeCourt Flare, NikeCourt Air Max 1 Ultra and NikeCourt Roshe LD-1000. Each shoe features a juxtaposition of Nike Safari and marble prints.

NikeCourt Flare:

Nike Greatness Collection

NikeCourt Air Max 1 Ultra:

Nike Greatness Collection

NikeCourt Roshe LD-1000:

Nike Greatness Collection

Serena will wear the Greatness Collection’s NikeCourt Flare when competing in New York.

Nike Greatness Collection

To complement her on-court look, Serena will sport the NikeCourt Bomber Jacket.

Nike Greatness Collection

The jacket includes the Serena Williams logo on the center back and her signature quote, “You are strong, powerful and beautiful,” is printed on the sockliner of the shoes and the inside lining of the jacket.

Nike Greatness Collection

Nike Greatness Collection

Nike Greatness Collection

The Greatness Collection is available beginning August 27 at select NikeLab stores and on nike.com/nikelab.