By: Becky Robinson, Special for BB&T Atlanta Open
The BB&T Atlanta crowd who assembled for the Venus Williams evening exhibition match against Canadian Genie Bouchard, did not leave disappointed.
Williams edged Bouchard 6-4, 7-6 (7-4). Williams, a seven-time grand slam champion, wowed the crowd with her impressive power and never give up mentality, while Bouchard showcased some impressive skills that led her to a Wimbledon final.
The exhibition was a sold-out event, as tennis fans packed the stadium to see the likes of a player who has been ranked No. 1 by the WTA Tour on three separate occasions, against a former WTA Tour No. 5. William’s, 2017 two-time grand slam final appearances, including the recent Wimbledon final, contributed to the excitement of fans as they witnessed high caliber live tennis under the BB&T Atlanta Open lights.
Canada’s top ranked female broke Williams early on in the first set; however, Williams fought back to win the set 6-4. In the second set, Bouchard again broke Venus early on, and from there, the momentum shifts back and forth. Tied at 6-6, in typical Williams’ fashion, Williams fought back to secure the match with a 7-4 tiebreak score.
The match was umpired by Wayne Bryan, who stated he has known Williams since she was eight-years-old; Bryan capitalized on the playfulness of the exhibition match to poke fun at both players. After referring to a shot by Williams as “one of the worst shot in the history of tennis,” Venus later “accidentally” hit Wayne with a ground stroke.
Prior to tonight’s exhibition, Williams and Bouchard had a 1-1 career head-to-head.
Next up for Williams, 37, currently ranked ninth, and Bouchard, 23, currently ranked 69th, includes summer hard court play, leading up to the U.S. Open.
“It was an honor to be on the court with [Venus],” Bouchard told the crowd.
This was Williams’ first return to Atlanta after a 10-year absence. “It was fun to be in Atlanta,” Williams told the crowd. “Your support…it’s an awesome feeling. I love this game. It’s all possible because you guys care and come out.”