Sofia Kenin defeated Serena Williams at the French Open in straight sets 6-2, 7-5. Kenin took the opening set 6-2 over Williams and jumped out to an early lead. Kenin was able to fight off Williams second set comeback to advance and will face Ash Barty in the next round.
It is a big upset for Kenin, who was born in Moscow, Russia, but is classified as an American tennis player. Kenin is just 20 years old and grew up watching the tennis legend.
“I have so much respect for Serena. She’s done so much for tennis, for American tennis,” Kenin told ESPN. “I watched her so much growing up, along with [Maria] Sharapova and other players, of course. It’s just crazy, I would have never guessed that in a few years I’d be playing Serena Williams in the third round at Roland Garros. I would have been jumping off the couch back then. Hopefully I can handle my emotions well tomorrow. And try not to overthink it. It’s going to be a little bit strange, looking across the net and it’s Serena there, but I’m going to have to just lock in and take it as any other match, and just play.”
Kenin recently notched her first tournament victory and has more than 25,000 followers on Instagram. Prior to the French Open, Kenin was posting photos of her Italian vacation.
Kenin’s Parents Moved to the United States from Moscow When She Was a Baby
Kenin’s family moved from Moscow when she was a baby. Her journey to tennis started at a young age, and she even has had her own website since she was five years old.
“My parents say I was playing with balls as a baby, and I didn’t like Barbies,” Kenin explained to Tennis.com. “I went on court and everyone saw I was different.”
Kenin now resides in Pembroke Pines, Florida and will turn 21 on November 14th. Heading into the French Open, Kenin was ranked No. 35 in the world and has earned $1.19 million over her young career, per WTA. Fed Cup teammate Madison Keys spoke about why Kenin has been so lethal on the court.
“She’s having a really great year, obviously,” Keys noted to ESPN. “Being able to play through those nerves for the first time and finally get that win, I think, was really big for her. She was definitely one of the ones, when she was coming up in her [age] group, that everyone kind of knew that she was going to do things. I think [Saturday] she’s going to have a lot of fun, and I think she doesn’t really back down to pressure, and she really enjoys it and likes being able to play up.”