Serena Williams' Final U.S. Open Match Sets ESPN Tennis Ratings Record

Serena Williams of the United States in action in her match against Ajla Tomlijanovic of Australia during their Women's Singles Third Round match on Day Five of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 02, 2022 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.
(Image credit: Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Serena Williams' likely final U.S. Open appearance was watched by a record audience for an ESPN tennis match, the sports service reported Tuesday.

More than 4.6 million viewers tuned in to ESPN on September 2 to watch Williams, who last month announced the U.S. Open would most likely be her final tennis competition, lose her match against Ajla Tomljanovich in a three-set thriller. The mark is the most ever for a tennis match in ESPN's 43-year history, beating the previous record of 3.9 million viewers for ESPN's 2012 coverage of the Wimbledon men's final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

The match peaked with 6.9 million viewers in the 10:15 p.m. quarter hour, according to the network. Overall, Williams' three televised U.S. Open matches helped ESPN average 1.1 million viewers across its first five days of U.S. Open telecasts, a 101% increase compared to 2021 and the most-viewed, first five days of the U.S. Open on record for the ESPN Networks, according to the company. 

ESPN will continue with coverage of the U.S. Open throughout the week, with the finals of the men's and women's championships airing this weekend. ■  

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.