The first time they played against each other, Flavia Pennetta and Roberta Vinci were 9 years old. Both were raised in the same region of Italy and have been close friends for the majority of their lives. They’ve won as an amateur and professional doubles team, including the 1999 Junior Girls Doubles title at Roland Garros and the 2006 WTA Copa Colsanitas. 4 times they’ve stood beside each other as Fed Cup champions for Italy. However, they had not met in the final of a top level professional event until the 2015 US Open. With Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who canceled his schedule and flew to New York for the final, in attendance, Pennetta and Vinci contested the first all-Italian Major singles final. One way or another, the Prime Minister was going to leave happy. In the end, Flavia just had too much for Roberta, winning 7-6 (4) 6-2. It’s strange how a sports scoreline can be misleading. Although Flavia won the second set more easily, it was in that final set that both players exhibited their best play. They were both tight as a drum in the first set. They let it flow in the second. Despite Vinci’s upset of Serena Williams a day earlier, Flavia is the better singles player. The better player won on this day. It’s Pennetta’s 11th singles title and first Major singles title. Apparently, it will also be her only Major singles title.
There were hugs, smiles and a general sense of joy as these two longtime friends soaked up the adulation of the crowd as they received their champion and runner-up trophies. Roberta takes home $1.6 million USD as runner-up while Flavia earned the top prize of $3.3 million USD. Then Flavia pulled a Marion Bartoli move on a surprised tennis world, announcing that her winning the US Open will be the last Major she ever plays as she will retire at the end of the 2015 season. Like Bartoli, who did not wait until the end of the year to retire when she won Wimbledon 2013 (I think she retired at the Western & Southern Open in mid-August 2013, not playing again, including forgoing the upcoming 2013 US Open), Flavia has chosen, at 33, to go out a Major winner. She is engaged to ATP pro tennis player Fabio Fognini. She’s been playing competitive tennis since she was in elementary school. While a win like this whets the appetite of her fans to see her play on, if she is ready to start a new chapter in her life then so be it. A $3.3 million USD prize is a nice retirement check.
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26 FLAVIA PENNETTA (won 7-6 (4) 6-2 vs Roberta Vinci)