'I'm so proud and happy for you' - Serena Williams magnanimous in defeat as she loses another Grand Slam final
Serena Williams paid tribute to Bianca Andreescu after the Canadian teenager produced a stunning performance to win her first major title at the US Open.
A year after Williams was involved in an acrimonious defeat at the hands of Naomi Osaka in the US Open final that created headlines around the world after her clash with umpire Carlos Ramos, Williams came out second best once again as she failed in her latest attempt to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
This was her fourth defeat in a major final after she returned to the game following the birth of her first child, with Andreescu shocking a packed and partisan Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-3 7-5 win.
Remarkably, Andreescu was not even born when Williams won her first US Open title in 1999, but she stood up to her illustrious opponent and held her nerve for a famous win.
"Bianca played an unbelievable match, I am so proud and happy for you," said a magnanimous Williams after her latest defeat.
"It was incredible tennis out there. If anyone could win this, outside of Venus (Williams, Serena's sister), I'm happy it's Bianca."
Andreescu was overwhelmed by her victory against one of the great icons of tennis, as she found these words to sum up her triumph.
"I know you guys wanted Serena to win, so I’m so sorry," she told the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium court. "It's so hard to explain, but I'm just beyond grateful and truly blessed.
"Obviously it was expected for Serena to fight back but I just tried my best to block everything out. I'm just glad with how I managed.
"Last year wasn't an easy period in my life with injuries but I persevered and told myself not to give up.
"I just keep telling myself, kept working hard and keep the momentum. Hopefully I can keep going.”
Andreescu has enjoyed a rapid rise, climbing from 208 in the world this time last year, when she lost in qualifying, to a projected place in the top five.
She becomes the first Canadian grand slam champion and the first woman to win here on their main draw debut after a match that threatened to get away from her as she closed in on victory in the second set.
With her close friend Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, watching with her mother, husband and coach, Williams began well enough with an ace, but successive double faults at deuce gave Andreescu a break in the opening game.
After winning the first set, she opened up a lead in the second and moved into a 5-1 lead as the finishing line appeared to be moving rapidly into sight, yet Williams saved a championship point before twice breaking back amid wild noise from the New York fans.
At 5-5 Andreescu managed a gutsy hold and then brought up two more championship points, seizing her chance with the second of them, a clubbing forehand winner for a remarkable victory.