Jelena Ostapenko and Serena Williams' historic 2017 Mubadala World Tennis Championship clash

Nick Watkins - Writer 13:47 11/12/2019
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Smashing stuff: Serena Williams returns to Jelena Ostapenko during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2017

As the Mubadala World Tennis Championship (MWTC) returns to Abu Dhabi this month, we’re taking a look back at some of the best matches and most memorable moments in the history of the tournament. In the second of three instalments we’re taking a trip down memory lane to relive Jenena Ostapenko’s victory over Serena Williams.

In the first-ever female match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, Jelena Ostapenko defeated Serena Williams in a thrilling 6-2, 3-6, 10-5 contest, which saw Williams back on court for the first time following the birth of her daughter.

The contest was also the first time the pair had ever locked horns on court and, going into the 2017 clash, Ostapenko was in fine form, having already won two WTA titles earlier that year, including her first Grand Slam title at Roland Garros. She was also ranked number seven in the world heading into the contest. In the previous summer, the Latvian had already pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year by defeating Simona Halep to win the French Open.

Williams had given birth to her baby, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, less than four months prior to her match against fellow Grand Slam winner Ostapenko. It was also the first time women had ever played at what was the 10thannual Mubadala World Tennis Championships.

All smiles: The Latvian greets Williams at the net

All smiles: The Latvian greets Williams at the net

The Latvian won the first set 6-2 after Williams’ crafty drop shot was narrowly called out. In the second set, the American fought back to tie the match, winning the set 3-6, with a tremendous rally. Ostapenko thought she had won the point after her drop shot clipped the top of the net, forcing Williams to charge towards the net and she somehow managed to scoop the ball into her opponent’s half to win the point. Victory finally came for the world number seven, from an unforced error from Williams, in a tense tiebreak, which ended 10-5.

Speaking after the match, Williams admitted her daughter was on her mind throughout the contest, “I was a little worried out there, I looked at my camp and was like, ‘Is Olympia okay?’” She added: “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to manage that, but when she gets older she’ll be able to actually come out to the matches.” Talking about the match itself Williams was in high spirits despite the loss. “I can’t rate my performance,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of comebacks, from surgery, foot surgeries, knees, but I’ve never had a comeback from actually giving birth to a human being. So in my eyes I feel like it was a wonderful match for me.”

She continued: “For me it’s all about physical, how do I physically feel, how am I moving, how am I physically recovering, so for me that’s kind of more what it is for me. I just am really proud of being out here, being able to play in Abu Dhabi, being able to just compete. I had a really tough few months and I’m just really excited to be out here.”

Sport360 caught up with the winner after the game “It’s been such a great opportunity,”saidOstapenko.”She was my idol when I was growing up and I really liked the style she was playing and I think she’s very big for women’s tennis.”

The 2019 Mubadala World Tennis Championships, runs from 19 – 21 December at Abu Dhabi’s International Tennis Centre at Zayed Sports City. Tickets start fromAED 100 for Adults and are now on sale at www.ticketmaster.ae or by calling 800 86 823 from within the UAE or +971 4 366 2289 from outside the country, and atall Virgin Megastores across the UAE. 3-Day Packages are also available with savings of 20%.

Premier Hospitality Packages are also available, offering fans a premium F&B menu, courtside seating, and exclusive Q&A sessions with a star player and much more. More details are available on www.mubadalawtc.com.

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