WASHINGTON, D.C. – It was, to say the least, not an oil painting of a match.
But Canadian Rebecca Marino, an insouciant 19-year-old when she first met Venus Williams on Arthur Ashe Stadium more than a decade ago, got her back, finally, Tuesday night at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.
Williams was playing her first singles match since losing in the first round to Hsieh Su-Wei at a small tournament in Chicago. That was nearly a year ago, a week before the US Open.
And while she looked much better – fitter, moved better – than she did then, Marino’s current fine form prevailed in a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory that puts her into the second round.
Marino said that Williams hit better, and moved better, than she might have expected. And, of course, the premium competitor in the now-42-year-old is always there.
Here’s what else the Canadian had to say after the match.
A lot of UEs, not many Ws
There were a combined 92 unforced errors in this one. Balanced with 13 winners by Marino, and just eight from Williams.
It was the kind of match that Williams may well have won. Because she was playing an opponent with a similar style, who wasn’t going to run her around the court and engage her in long rallies.
And, in fact, she almost did.
Marino reminisced the other day about not feeling nervous at all, going on Arthur Ashe Stadium against the legend, in her first Grand Slam main draw in 2010.
A lot of water under the bridge since then. And this time, Marino admitted to quite a few nerves.
But when she kept the errors down, she dictated. And while Williams, who looked as though her energy flagged as the match went on, pulled out some big serves and a few big forehands on crucial points later in the match, she gave up a hard-earned third-set break.
And once it got back to even, if felt as though Marino – her body language determined and positive – was going to prevail.
She will play either No. 8 seed Clara Tauson, or Andrea Petkovic on Wednesday.