An unseeded Italian tennis player by the name of Roberta Vinci has just shocked Serena Williams and the entire tennis world.

Vinci, 32, beat Serena Williams 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 in the U.S. Open semifinal on Friday. The defeat leaves Williams just two wins shy of becoming the first tennis player to win a calendar-year Grand Slam since Steffi Graf in 1988.

To put it lightly, the odds were against Vinci coming into the game — a 300-1 underdog to be exact. Only one other unseeded player has ever beaten Williams at the U.S. Open before. Vinci had previously never played in a Grand Slam semifinal, nor even won a set against Williams in her four previous matches against her.

“When you woke up this morning, what gave you the belief that this moment was possible?” Vinci was asked after the match.

“No,” she replied.

“It’s an incredible moment for me. It’s amazing. It’s like a dream, you know? I’m in the final. I beat Serena,” she said. “I think [it’s] the best moment of my life.”

Vinci also apologized to the crowd at one point in her post-game press conference. Asked why, she said, “For the American people, for Serena, for the Grand Slam and everything. But today is my day. Sorry guys.”

Explaining her strategy heading into the match, Vinci said she simply tried to put the tennis legend on the other side of the court out of her mind.

“In my mind, I say put the ball on the court. Don’t think,” Vinci explained. “Try to put all the ball on the court. Don’t think about that Serena is in the other court. And run, you know, when you put the ball, run. Don’t think and run. And then I won.”


Williams, who had a larger than usual number of unforced errors in the game, said she didn’t “want to talk about how disappointed” she was after the game, but did speak highly of Vinci’s game.

“I thought she played the best tennis in her career,” Williams said after the game. “She played, literally, out of her mind.”

Coming into Friday, Williams had won 33 straight Grand Slam matches and had not lost a game at the U.S. Open since the 2011 final. With only two words, feminist author Roxane Gay summarized the words of Williams fans everywhere Friday.


Vinci plays fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta in the U.S. Open final on Saturday.

Headshot of Maxwell Strachan
Senior Editor, The Huffington Post


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