By Martine Paris and Paulina Cachero
Fans who want a chance to see tennis star Serena Williams before she retires will have to pay up.
Since Williams announced that the US Open might be her last professional tournament, demand has surged, with the US Tennis Association selling 15,700 tickets to the event on Tuesday alone — more than the previous seven days combined. Fans eager to see what could be the 23-time Grand Slam champion’s last run scooped up almost 9,000 tickets for the tournament’s first two days, which are now sold out.
“Serena’s participation in the tournament historically has shown high demand and we have trouble holding ticket inventory,” USTA Chief Commercial Officer Kirsten Corio said. “We’re just excited that she’ll be playing in the tournament this year.”
But it’s the prospect of seeing Williams end her storied career on top that’s capturing the imaginations — and, potentially, the wallets — of tennis fans. On StubHub, a ticket to the Sept. 10 final costs as much as $12,728, while seats are going for $5,682 on Gametime and $5,600 on Ticketmaster.
In some cases, resellers are asking for astronomical sums for early rounds, too. In reality, average sale prices have stayed steady in recent days, StubHub spokesman Adam Budelli said.
But in the case of the final, seats may only get more expensive if Williams advances through the field. That’s hardly a guarantee, though: The odds that Williams, who turns 41 next month, will win the tournament are just +1,600, placing her behind nine other players, according to DraftKings.
StubHub saw eight times as many tickets for the US Open sold on Tuesday compared with the daily average over the last week, which spokesman Adam Budelli credited to Williams.
“We typically see demand spike on StubHub when a player announces their retirement, and this is especially the case when it’s Serena Williams, arguably one of the greatest players to set foot on the tennis court,” he said.
If Williams wins the US Open, she would tie Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 singles titles. She already stands alone in the Open Era with 23 Grand Slam singles, and has won four Olympic gold medals and 14 titles in women’s doubles, all with her older sister, Venus.
Her appearance in the tournament could be a boost for ESPN, given the potential absence of two of tennis’s biggest male stars. Novak Djokovic isn’t allowed to enter the US because he’s unvaccinated for Covid-19, and Rafael Nadal is battling an injury.
Williams, who detailed her reasons for reluctantly stepping away from tennis in a cover story in Vogue magazine, is one of the highest-paid female athletes in the world. She has said that after retiring she will turn more attention to her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which focuses on investing in companies run by women and minorities. She currently serves on the boards of Poshmark Inc., Momentive Global Inc. and Sorare SAS, a $4.3 billion sports NFT startup backed by SoftBank Group.
“I love playing tennis, but know I can’t do it forever,” she said in an interview with Bloomberg in February.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com.