By day’s end, the U.S. Open had moved 15,700 tickets, according to Brendan McIntyre, a spokesman for the USTA.
“To put that in perspective, that’s more that day than we sold the previous seven days combined — and 10 times more than we sold the previous Tuesday,” McIntyre told The Washington Post on Thursday.
The tournament sold more than 4,600 tickets for the opening night on Monday, Aug. 29, and 4,300 for the following night, leading both days to sell out more than two weeks before the matches begin.
“People are buying up tickets thinking she’ll play one of those two,” McIntyre said. “We get to sellouts quite often, but what’s not common is selling 4,600 and 4,300 tickets in one day.”
Williams shocked the sports world when she shared on Instagram an excerpt of her interview with Vogue for its storied September issue. She said she would be moving “in a different direction” and that “the countdown has begun.”
“I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena,” wrote Williams, who said that as much as she loves the game she’s helped to transform over the past three decades, she wants to focus on business ventures and have another child with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Though she was vague about when she would make her official exit from pro tennis, the U.S. Open emerged as a likely target after Williams cryptically noted, “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”
The U.S. Open is the last Grand Slam tournament of the year in the international tennis calendar and represents Williams’s next — and perhaps last — chance to tie Australian Margaret Court for the all-time Grand Slam women’s singles record of 24.
Williams has won the American hard court tournament six times as a singles player and won two doubles titles with her older sister, Venus.
Sharing her plans in Vogue, Williams said she was not looking for a final on-court moment full of pop and ceremony.
“I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst,” she wrote. “But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”
For the winningest American female tennis player of all time, the feeling from the sport appears mutual.
Stacey Allaster, chief executive of professional tennis with the U.S. Tennis Association and director of the U.S. Open Tournament, praised Williams as a “a generational, if not multigenerational talent” who made an impact not only on the tennis court, but on women in sports, business and society.
“At a time when our nation and the world have wrestled with essential issues of identity, Serena has stood as a singular exemplar of the best of humanity,” Allaster said in a statement. “She leaves an indelible legacy that will inspire athletes, female and male, for many generations to come. We can’t thank her enough for all she has done for our sport.”