If you’re going to beat an American legend going for history in front of a New York crowd, here’s your clinic for how to handle the aftermath.
Unheralded and unseeded Roberta Vinci pulled off exactly this on Friday at the U.S. Open, ending in stunning fashion Serena Williams’ bid to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win the calendar-year Grand Slam.
With a shocked crowd still processing the result, Vinci embarked on the customary on-court interview with ESPN’s Tom Rinaldi. The full video is above. Here are some of the highlights:
• When asked how she would describe the moment, Vinci could only sputter her lips and shake her head as the crowd cheered. "It’s like a dream," she said. "I’m in the final, I beat Serena."
• She called the win "the best moment of my life," receiving another huge ovation.
• Rinaldi quite generously asked her what gave her "the belief this moment was possible." She responded with a firm "no" and a head shake. "No, really. It’s true," she said. "When I wake up, I say, ‘OK, I’m in the semifinal today. Try to enjoy it. Don’t think about Serena.’ … But I didn’t expect that (I’d win). No."
• When asked how she dealt with the end-of-match pressure, she said, "In my mind, I say, ‘Put the ball on the court. Don’t think. Try to put all the balls in the court. Don’t think about (how) Serena is in the other court. And run. Don’t think, and run. And, you know, I won.’"
At the end, Rinaldi asked her why she said she was sorry earlier in the aftermath.
"Well, for the American people, for Serena, for the Grand Slam and everything," Vinci said, beaming ear to ear. "But today is my day. Sorry, guys."