Flavia Pennetta has upstaged fellow Italian Roberta Vinci in the US Open final to become the oldest first-time women’s grand slam champion in professional tennis history.
In one of most unlikeliest championship deciders ever, 33-year-old Pennetta took the spoils with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 victory at Flushing Meadows on Saturday.
Glory in the first all-Italian grand slam final crowned a remarkable comeback after Pennetta had pondered retirement last year while battling a debilitating wrist injury.
The Fed Cup teammates and former doubles partners warmly embraced at the net before Pennetta celebrated her stunning triumph with her entourage including boyfriend Fabio Fognino, the third-round conquerer of former men’s champion Rafael Nadal.
In addition to becoming the third-oldest grand slam champion behind all-time greats Martina Navratilova and Serena Williams in the 47-year open era, Pennetta set new standards for patience.
Contesting her 49th career major, no woman has waited longer to break through at a grand slam.
The 26th seed took out Australians Jarmila Gajdosova and 2011 champion Samantha Stosur en route to the title, the 11th and by far the biggest in a career previously highlighted by a stint as the world’s top-ranked doubles player.
The 43-ranked Vinci, also a former No.1 doubles player, was unable to follow up her spectacular semi-final defeat of world No.1 and grand slam chaser Serena Williams, the 32-year-old’s challenge ending in one hour and 33 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The title match also featured the oldest two first-time grand slam finalists.
The pair traded service breaks in the sixth and eighth games before Pennetta claimed the first set in a tiebreaker.
Pennetta, who’d won both her previous grand slam encounters with Vinci and enjoyed a 5-4 head-to-head edge overall entering the final, powered to a 4-0 lead second set before breaking her good friend for a fourth time to reign as the queen of Queens.
Vinci had been hoping to join the likes of Margaret Smith Court, Billie-Jean King, Navratilova, Chris Evert, Martina Hingis, Serena and Venus Williams and Stosur to complete a rare US Open double having won the women’s doubles in New York in 2012 title with fellow Italian Sara Errani.