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Serena Williams Effect: U.S. Open Women's Final Sells Out Early


No more tickets remain to the upcoming U.S. Open women's tennis final. The final match sold out before the men's final. It's sold out even though we do not know yet who will play. Many fans seem confident that one of the players will be Serena Williams. If she wins the U.S. Open, she will tie Steffi Graf for the most grand slam titles in the modern era with 22. Tandaleya Wilder is tracking the Open. She's a sports commentator among other things. Hi, Tandaleya.

TANDALEYA WILDER: Hey, Steve. How are you?

INSKEEP: I'm OK. So, I understand you will be at the final. You got a seat in the press section.

WILDER: Absolutely, I'm going to be there. I wouldn't miss this for the world.

INSKEEP: And you're expecting Serena Williams to be there?

WILDER: I am expecting Serena to be there. And I think she's got a great shot of winning this thing.

INSKEEP: And how would you measure the excitement in the tennis world?

WILDER: Oh, it's very, very high. I mean, the very fact that the women's finals sold out before the men's this year is historic in itself, and I think everyone wants to see if Serena is actually going to be able to pull this thing off and win four grand slams within one year.

INSKEEP: But with that said, she's had a kind of hot and cold relationship with fans over the years. Are we in a hot phase then?

WILDER: I think we are definitely in a hot phase right now. I mean, look, Serena has certainly matured. She's learned how to deal with naysayers and oftentimes unfair criticism in a very gracious faction. Just recently she was asked about how little she makes in endorsements compared to other players like Maria Sharapova, and she said, you know, she's okay with the corporate partners she does have. I know Nike's been rolling with her for a long time. And she says what's more important than being top on the money list is paving the way for other young black female players on the tour to eventually have a shot at that number-one spot on the endorsement list someday. So right now, Steve, she's focused on legacy.

INSKEEP: So what would it mean in the end if Serena Williams gets that 22nd Grand Slam title or for that matter 23 or 24 and surpasses everyone in the modern era?

WILDER: In my view, it absolutely solidifies her as the greatest tennis player ever. And I just think that what makes her story so epic is the fact that it really is a great American sports story. She bypassed these rich country clubs. Her and her sister Venus learned tennis from their dad on the public tennis courts straight out of Compton, and she's managed to dominate the sport in an unprecedented fashion. And that seat alone, Steve - to come so far from where she was, she is already the greatest tennis player ever.

INSKEEP: Sports commentator, Tandaleya Wilder, thanks very much.

WILDER: Thank you, Steve. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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