The champion of 2016 was unable to defend her crown after an enthralling final against Venus Williams
‘I’m going to have nine million death threats’: Shelby Rogers braces for social media abuse after US Open loss
Shelby Rogers’s ascent to world number one was marred by a controversial loss to Venus Williams, a position from which the 22-year-old American is now set to remain for at least a year.
After nine months out of the game, Rogers faced off against Venus in a thrilling final at the Aegon Classic, Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Birmingham on Saturday evening. But it was Rogers who found herself on the back foot early in the first set, Williams testing her resistance with lethal ground strokes.
Nonetheless, Rogers enjoyed the momentum in the second set, surging out to a 6-1 lead, but Williams clawed back to level matters.
In a final that ended with Rogers unable to serve for the title, the American watched as Venus won 6-4, 7-6 (5). It was the first final win for Venus since 2008.
Playing in the final for the first time since 2009, the American opened the 2019 season in a perfect position. She was the first American woman to win the title in 10 years and will enter next year’s tournament number one in the world.
And there was pressure on her as soon as she arrived on the court to play the final.
On a day of great tennis from Venus and Tennys Sandgren, who finally broke the no-man’s land, cramping in the fourth set and losing to Novak Djokovic, at the net one fan shouted “I want Hamilton for Christmas,” referring to the hit musical.
Rogers shrugged off the tweets and songs delivered from the stands. “I don’t care,” she told Reuters. “I’m going to have to start reading [the tweets] now. I’m going to have nine million death threats. But I’m up for the challenge. I like to make my own challenges.”
Rogers won’t play in any more main draws this season, she confirmed, and will spend the next year defending her title at Wimbledon.
“I will not be playing any singles events this season, and I will put all my energy into Wimbledon,” she said. “The feeling right now is unbelievable.”