Serena Williams’ final U.S. Open match Friday was a grand slam for ESPN.
The third-round faceoff, in which Williams lost to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovich 7-5, 6-7, 6-1, was the most-watched tennis telecast in ESPN’s 43-year history. An average of 4.6 million viewers (P2+) tuned in to watch the match held at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, which likely signaled the end of Williams’ storied 25-year career. That bested the previous record of 3.9 million for the 2012 Wimbledon Men’s Championship, when Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray, in ESPN’s first year with exclusivity and first-ball-to-last-ball coverage from London.
The Williams-Tomljanovich match averaged 4.8 million viewers from 7:15-10:30 p.m. ET and peaked with 6.9 million viewers in the 10:15 p.m. quarter-hour.
Through the first five days of the U.S. Open, which were dominated by coverage of Williams, an average of 1.1. million viewers tuned in to ESPN networks — good for the most viewed first five days of the U.S. Open across the ESPN networks, up +101% versus 2021.
Additionally, ESPN2’s primetime coverage of the Williams sisters’ doubles match on Thursday was the third-most-viewed third-round telecast ever on ESPN networks averaging 2.2 million viewers.
On Wednesday, August 31, Williams’ second-round victory over Anett Kontaveit averaged 3.6 million viewers and peaked with five million.
Monday, August 29, was ESPN’s most-watched opening-day and opening day primetime U.S. Open telecast ever. The evening doubleheader averaged 1.7 million, up 279% from 2021 and 40% higher than the previous high in 2019. The first match in that window, Williams defeating Danka Kovinic in the first round, averaged 2.7 million viewers. The audience for the entire 12 hours of coverage was ESPN’s largest for a U.S. Open opening day, an average of 843,000 viewers.
Nellie Andreeva contributed to this report.
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