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Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Record Crowd Watches Serena Williams Advance in U.S. Open

  • Opening night on ESPN averaged a record 1.7 million viewers, a 279% increase year-over-year.
  • The network’s coverage of Williams’ first-round win over Danka Kovinic averaged 2.7 million viewers.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday night, a record crowd watched 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams advance to the third round of her last U.S. Open — and final professional tournament. 

An audience of 29,959 filled New York’s USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as the 40-year-old — who entered the highly anticipated match as a sizable underdog — defeated 26-year-old World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit

The night-session record is just the latest benchmark Serena’s swan song has set so far.

  • ESPN’s Monday night coverage of Williams’ first-round win over Danka Kovinic averaged 2.7 million viewers.
  • The win helped Williams reach just under $95 million in guaranteed career on-court earnings. 

On Thursday, Serena and sister Venus Williams will compete in the women’s doubles draw for the first time since 2014. They hold a 14-0 record in Grand Slam doubles finals.

Expensive Media Rights 

In 2013, ESPN landed media rights to the U.S. Open with the USTA with an 11-year deal valued at $770 million.

CBS had previously held rights to the tournament for more than 45 years, but the network reportedly turned down a deal that would’ve cost over $30 million annually.

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