Roberta Vinci: Beyond the 2015 US Open semi-final

May 28 5 min read

12:03 pm

During the 2015 US Open, Serena Williams found herself just a set away from moving into the final and having the opportunity to complete a calendar slam. However, a wily Italian veteran at the other side of the net had other plans. In four previous meetings, Roberta Vinci had never won more than four games in a set against Serena. However, after dropping the first set she showed her steely resolve by taking the second and forcing the home favourite to a decider. Games later, Vinci made the crowd her own, defeating the great Serena Williams in three high quality sets of tennis.

In the post-match interview she was apologetic to the crowd who backed the local, who had won three slams earlier that year. Quite similarly, lucky loser Aleksandra Krunic was apologetic to the crowd at the 2018 Italian Open after defeating Vinci in the last singles match of her career. To a major portion of the tennis community, Vinci poses as a lady who is disdainfully humorous but the crowd at Foro Italico and Vinci herself were immersed in an emotional sphere after Krunic ended the local hero’s run in the opening round.

During a special ceremony held for Vinci wherein scenes from her major career titles were shown, the usually determined, aggressive, sardonic Italian tried her best to stop her tears upon seeing what she has accomplished in a career that had spanned almost two decades. There was a special applause when the big screen showed the moment when Vinci asked the crowd to make some noise at Flushing Meadows in the 2015 US Open semi-final.

“Proud of what I have achieved in my career. A journey of sacrifices and success,” said Vinci in her last post-match conference. It indeed took a herculean effort to stop Serena at the US Open three years earlier; after all, that match brought her into the limelight, paving a way for tennis fans and communities to look up into the numbers that now represent Vinci’s stellar career.

1) Former World No.1 in Doubles

Vinci is considered to be one of the most strategic-minded players when it comes to doubles tennis. Along with fellow Italian Sara Errani, Vinci claimed the top spot in the doubles rankings in 2012. She held on to that spot for a total of 110 weeks. Overall, Vinci won 415 matches during her doubles career.

2) Career Grand Slam in Doubles

In 2012, Vinci, alongside compatriot Sara Errani won two grand slams: the US Open and French Open. The following year, the duo clinched the Australian Open title and months later relished the glory of Wimbledon and a career grand slam. Errani and Vinci became the 5th pair in tennis history to complete a career grand slam.

3) Top 10 singles player

Vinci was a competitive player on the singles circuit as well. She won 565 singles matches in her career with a 58% win rate. Vinci won 10 titles from 15 finals appearances, of which her biggest victory was winning the Premier event at St. Petersburg in 2016. The Italian defeated Yanina Wickmayer, Timea Babos, Ana Ivanovic and Belinda Bencic to claim her title. The same year, she broke into the Top 10 for the first time at the age of 33, making her the oldest player as a first-time top 10 entrant. Though she dwelled for a short time in the list, Vinci managed to ascend to as high as World No.7 before ending the season No.18.

4) Fed Cup glory

Vinci was a part of Italy’s Fed Cup winning team in the years 2006, 2009, 2010 & 2013. Overall, she played in 24 ties and retires with an impressive 18-1 record in Fed Cup doubles matches.

5) 15 wins against Top 10 players

Vinci was a doubles player predominantly, yet she has recorded 15 wins against Top 10 players. Two of those wins came against No.1 players. The first was Caroline Wozniacki at the 2011 Rogers Cup in the second round and the second was the aforementioned defeat of Serena Williams at the 2015 US Open.

Roberta Vinci reached 43 finals in her doubles career, winning 25 of them. She reached eight grand slam doubles finals, winning five of them. Yet, she is most remembered for finishing as the runner-up in the 2015 US Open finals where she lost to childhood friend Flavia Pennetta. Pennetta and Vinci shared a warm embrace at the net after their memorable, first in history, all-Italian Ladies’ singles grand slam final.

Vinci felt a similar warmth when chair umpire Mariana Alves herself stepped down of her chair and gave Vinci a kiss on the cheeks after the Italian’s last career match at Rome. One of the very few women who kept the single-handed backhand alive on the women’s circuit, Vinci’s promising career is indeed something to look beyond that US Open semi-final. Vinci might be done with her professional career but she has not given up her hilarious nature when she quoted the following in the press conference:

“At least I won’t put any alarm clock tomorrow morning!”


I started playing many years ago and tennis was my life. I gave everything to tennis and tennis gave it all to me. Today with no regrets in front of this beautiful audience ends my career, it was a magnificent adventure. Thanks to those who have been ❤️ - Roberta Vinci (via Twitter)