This article, written by Howard Fendrich (AP Tennis Writer), appears on Newsday.
Pennetta wins 1st Grand Slam title at US Open, won’t return
After meeting her opponent, Roberta Vinci, at the net for a long hug — both from the southern heel of Italy’s boot, they were childhood friends, then doubles partners and roommates as teens — Pennetta let Vinci in on a little secret that would soon be shared with the world.
Pennetta decided about a month ago she would be retiring after this season, and this would be her last appearance at Flushing Meadows.
Talk about going out on top.
In one of the unlikeliest major finals in women’s tennis history, Pennetta beat Vinci 7-6 (4), 6-2 in the U.S. Open final at Flushing Meadows on Saturday, then revealed during the trophy ceremony that she is ready to hang up her racket.
“This is how I say goodbye to tennis,” Pennetta said as her fiance, tennis player Fabio Fognini, captured the scene with his phone’s camera. “I couldn’t think to finish in a better way.”
Later, Pennetta clarified that she plans to enter two tournaments in China over the next month, and the season-ending WTA Finals in Singapore, if she qualifies. But she definitely won’t be back at the U.S. Open.
“Why? Because sometimes it’s getting hard for me to compete. … If you don’t fight every week in the same way I did today, it’s going to be, like bad. … And I don’t have … this power anymore, sometimes,” Pennetta explained. “I mean, with this — winning today — my life is perfect.”
She is the oldest woman in the Open era, which began in 1968, to become a Grand Slam champion for the first time. Vinci, who is 32, would have earned that distinction had she been able to follow her stunning upset of Williams in Friday’s semifinals with another victory.
This was the first major final for either participant, and the first time since WTA computer rankings were instituted in 1975 that both U.S. Open women’s finalists were ranked outside the top 20 (Vinci is 43rd). Pennetta entered the tournament with only a 17-15 record this season. Vinci was 20-20 in 2015, and 40-43 in majors for her career.
They grew up 40 miles (65 kilometers) apart in coastal towns in Puglia, a region on the heel of Italy’s boot-shaped peninsula, and have been facing each other on court for two decades — with the stakes much lower, of course. Read More on Newsday.