US Open Women’s Championship already had been drawing a lot of attention as tennis great Serena Williams was going for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title and looking to become only the fourth mom to win a Grand Slam. While the big anticipation and the intriguing matchup of Williams and hot upstart Naomi Osaka were expected to drive ratings, few expected the big controversy and epic meltdown by Williams that engulfed the second set and may have cost her the match. It also earned her a $17,000 fine.
With all that, ESPN’s telecast of the US Open Women’s Championship, in which Osaka topped her childhood idol Williams 6-2, 6-4, posted a 2.5 rating for the match itself and a 2.4 for the full three-hour telecast.
It tied for the second-highest in ESPN’s entire US Open history (225 telecasts starting in 2009, exclusivity since 2015) with the 2015 Men’s Championship (Novak Djokovic vs. Roger Federer). The only higher overnight rating, a 2.7, was a prime-time 2015 window of quarterfinal action that included Serena playing her sister Venus and Novak Djokovic vs. Feliciano Lopez.
The 2.4 overnight rating was up 32% from last year (1.9), when the Women’s final featured two American players, Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, and 79% higher than 2016 (1.4 for Angelique Kerber vs. Karolina Pliskova).
Last night’s rating peaked in the final quarter hour of the match (5:30 – 5:45 p.m. ET) at a 3.3.
Not surprisingly, the five highest-rated market was West Palm Beach (6.0) where there is a big tennis community. Both Osaka and Williams reside in Florida.