The Czech duo of Lucie Hradecká and Linda Nosková defeated Venus and Serena Williams 7-6 (5), 6-4 in the first round of the women's doubles tournament at the 2022 US Open on Thursday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
It was a disappointing result for the Williams sisters, who were playing in their first major doubles tournament together since the 2018 French Open. It also could have been the final doubles match the sisters play together professionally.
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Serena, 40, revealed that she is retiring, or rather "evolving away from" tennis after the 2022 US Open in a Vogue article last month in which she detailed her desire to to work on other things that are important to her, including growing her family with husband Alexis Ohanian and daughter Olympia.
Hradecká and Nosková came out victorious in a back-and-forth first set that was decided in a tiebreak. Hradecka whipped a backhand down the line that neither of the Williams sisters could reach to clinch the victory.
Venus and Serena had a number of opportunities to win the set, including when they were up 6-5 and again in the tiebreak at 5-4, but they allowed Hradecka and Noskova to get back into the set before giving it away in the tiebreak with a number of mistakes.
It often felt like Serena was carrying Venus in the first set, but both of the sisters struggled in the second set as Hradecká and Nosková came out on fire, looking to close out the match early.
The Czech duo raced out to an early 3-0 lead with the Williams sisters looking disjointed after a disappointing first set. Venus and Serena fought back in the fourth game of the second set to cut Hradecka and Noskova's lead to 3-1 before going on to tie the set 4-4 after going down 4-1.
It was an incredible comeback for the Williams sisters, but Hradecká and Nosková were just too good to overcome as they won the next two games to claim a 6-4 set victory to clinch a berth in the second round.
Luckily for tennis fans, Serena will continue her run in the women's singles tournament at the US Open after defeating Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 in the first round and world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the second round on Wednesday.
Venus' run in the singles tournament ended with a first-round loss to Alison van Uytvanck.
Serena is set for a third-round clash with Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday at Arthur Ashe Stadium at 7 p.m. ET.
Venus and Serena entered the 2022 US Open having won 14 women's doubles Grand Slams as partners. The only duo with more in the Open Era is Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova, who won 20 matches together.
They also won three Olympic gold medals as doubles partners, including Sydney in 2000, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.