Photo by Jim Chung/Tennis Connected

A new decade and a new-look US Open. No-one could have quite predicted we’d be playing the 140th edition of the Grand Slam behind closed doors. Amid fears surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and travelling, a number of high-profile stars from the women’s game have ruled themselves out this year – notably current champion Bianca Andreescu and fellow Grand Slam winners Ash Barty and Simona Halep. With so many absentees and shock exits from the early rounds so far, it’s hard to predict the winner of the women’s singles if you’re betting on tennis US Open. But while we digest the current crop, let’s delve back through to the archives – to the winners of each of the previous three decades.

2010: Kim Clijsters

Belgian Kim Clijsters successfully retained her US Open title, with a back-to-back straight sets victory, this time over Vera Zvonareva, 6–2, 6–1. It was Clijsters’ third US Open title and she’d go on to win her fourth Grand Slam in the subsequent Australian Open.

Having sailed through the early rounds, without dropping a single set, it was in the quarter-finals that she faced her first challenge. It took three sets for Clijsters to overcome the fifth seed, Samantha Stosur, 6–4, 5–7, 6–3, and it was a similar story in the semis as she came from behind to defeat Venus Williams, who was looking for her first US Open title since 2001. And Zvonareva beat the previous year’s finalist Caroline Wozniacki in the semi-final to secure her place in a second Grand Slam final.

2000: Venus Williams

The year 2000 marked Williams’ first US Open title, and she went on to be successful the following year too. The start of a new Millennium was a great year for the American, who became the second woman (after Steffi Graf) to win Wimbledon, Olympics, and the US Open in the same season. Drawn as the number 3 seed, she defeated the woman ranked second and winner of the 1998 edition, Lindsay Davenport.

It was straight set victories for Williams as she progressed from the early rounds, when faced against unseeded opponents – winning the first four matches in straight sets. Her first real test came in the quarter-finals against Nathalie Tauziat (ranked eighth) and despite going ahead in the first set, her opponent hit back, taking the match to three sets. It was a similar story in the semi-final, facing the number 1 seed, Martina Hingis. After winning the first set, Williams was pegged back and eventually earned her place in the final. Normal service resumed, and Williams was victorious 6–4, 7–5

1990: Gabriela Sabatini

The Argentinian caused a major shock in the 1990 final, beating two-time defending champion, Graf, to win the US Open. In doing so, Gabriela Sabatini became the first women’s singles player from her nation to win the Grand Slam title. It was her only major title, and second of three finals appearances. Although it took a tie-break, Sabatini beat the German in straight sets, 6–2, 7–6 (7–4).

From facing wild card Kathy Johnson in round one, to the 11th seed Helena Suková in the fourth, Sabatini won in straight sets. The first two rounds were a breeze and she recorded dominant 6–1, 6–1 wins over her rivals. In the quarter-finals, she was up against the lowest ranked player of the competition and once again, recorded a clear victory. But it was in the semi-finals that the Argentine was tested. It took three sets to overcome the eighth seed, Mary Joe Fernandez, to set up a final against Graf – a repeat of the 1988 US Open final – and this time, Sabatini was victorious!


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