“Before I started this tournament, one month ago, I made a big decision in my life. And this is why I would like to say goodbye to tennis,” said Flavia Penetta to a crowd which was still lauding her for her achievement of winning the women’s singles title at US Open 2015.
While Penetta played some sterling tennis throughout the 93 minute tussle, it was her post match presentation speech which stayed in the mind for a long time. Having been on the tour for 15 years, it was a fitting achievement for the Italian who had won the women’s doubles championship at the Australian Open in 2011.
The final was the first all Italian affair in Grand Slam history and marked the first time that Penetta and Roberta Vinci had reached the finals in the women’s singles event at a Grand Slam. Vinci had reached the finals after knocking out three-time defending champion, Serena Williams in the semi finals.
The tension and nervousness could be clearly seen in the early exchanges as both players made a jittery start and committed a lot of unforced errors before Penetta took hold of the match in the second set, eventually winning with a scoreline of 7-6,6-2.
At the age of 33, Penetta became the oldest woman to win a maiden Grand Slam title in the open era. Penetta had first shone on the international stage when she won the girls’ doubles title with Vinci at the 1999 French Open. Penetta also holds the record for most Grand Slam appearances before winning a major. She had entered 49 major tournaments before eventually triumphing at the US Open this year.
The win means that she has attained a career high ranking of number 8. The last woman to retire immediately after winning a maiden Grand Slam was the Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli. Penetta’s solid groundstrokes and quick hands meant that her game was best suited for the hard courts.
Her best career performances came at the Flushing Meadows as she was runner-up twice in the doubles finals. She first made the finals in 2005 alongside Elena Dementieva before reaching the finals again last year with Swiss Martina Hingis.
She reached the quarterfinals thrice before this year and lost in the semi-finals in 2013 after being ranked 83 at the time of entering the tournament. Penetta was an extremely successful doubles player and became the first Italian to be ranked number 1 in doubles.
Penetta was an instrumental part of Italy’s Fed Cup teams and helped them win the title in 2006, 2009, 2010 and 2013. Her Fed Cup record was a stellar 25 wins against 5 losses,
She was also named a Knight of Order of Merit of the Republic in 2007 by the then Italian President.