The much-anticipated first-round clash between Serena Williams and Emma Raducanu at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati was abruptly postponed from Monday to Tuesday, frustrating fans who had spent big and traveled to the event to watch the match.
Cincinnati is likely to be the penultimate tournament of Williams’ career after she announced last week that her retirement is imminent. It will also be Williams’ first home match in two years and, with expectations so high, the tournament had announced in advance that Williams and Raducanu would headline Monday night’s session.
After the announcement, tickets for the session quickly sold out, with some fans snapping up tickets at inflated prices in order to see Williams one last time. However, the tournament chose to move the match to Tuesday.
A tournament spokesman later said the decision was “due to a number of scheduling-related factors.” Instead of announcing the change directly and offering fans the option of a refund, Monday night’s playing order simply omitted Williams and Raducanu from the lineup.
Lee Hagy, one of a number of fans who have taken to social media to express their frustration, tweeted: “This is really frustrating, it traveled all over the country with your advertising that Serena would be playing on Monday night! You change the night at the last minute order of play?And I bought tickets in 200 sections just for this, now you might have to cancel your flight if you want to see it??!
Both Williams and Raducanu are already in Cincinnati after their first outings in Toronto, with the former training for the first time in front of a packed crowd on Sunday, while the latter trained a day earlier alongside Elena Rybakina. Raducanu spoke on Sunday about his joy at getting the chance to face Williams.
“I just want to go out and enjoy the game that I’m going to play whenever I play it. It’s a great gift to play your best when you leave the sport. So I’m looking forward to that,” Raducanu said.
Late Monday morning, Williams practiced smoothly on Court 16 in the shade of Center Court, where they were scheduled to play. While fans have expressed their frustration, others were content to see Williams one last time.
Alicia Harris, who was hoping to see Williams play for the first time after supporting her in 1998, said: “My husband and I bought tickets for today thinking I would play today because I have to go back to work tomorrow. .
“I’m very disappointed, but I was glad I got to see her in practice. I really just wanted to see her and I got what I came for.”
Rybakina reached the second round on Monday, recovering from a break down to defeat Mayar Sherif 6-3, 6-2 and set up a second-round match between the Wimbledon champions as she faces Garbiñe Muguruza, the eighth seed, in the second round.
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