The US Open is always the place to catch rising stars introducing themselves to the tennis world. And sometimes, to say also goodbye.
At the 2015 US Open, several of the game’s most beloved and recognizable players – and one of the sport’s most popular stadiums – took their final bows. Here are six that will be missed:
Flavia Pennetta: What appeared to be a benign on-court interview after winning the women’s singles title against Roberta Vinci turned into the best mic drop in tennis history. The 33-year-old announced her retirement from professional tennis after 15 years on tour. "Before I started this tournament, one month ago, I made a big decision in my life. And this is why I would like to say goodbye to tennis,” she told a stunned crowd. “I’m really happy. It’s what all players want to do, go home with one of these big trophies. So this one was my last match at the US Open and I couldn’t think to finish a better way. I want to thank everyone who supported me during my career. All my coaches, my family, who aren’t here, but they’re going to be proud of me. I love you guys.”
It’s unclear what Pennetta will do post-retirement, but it’s safe to say that winning her first Grand Slam singles title and collecting a $3.3 million check is the best possible way she could have exited the sport.
Lleyton Hewitt: After 17 years on tour, the former US Open singles and doubles champion made his final appearance in New York. The 2000 US Open men’s doubles winner and 2001 men’s singles champion exited in classic Hewitt fashion, rallying from two sets down in his second-round match against fellow Aussie Bernard Tomic to bring the match to a fifth set before finally succumbing. Hewitt will officially retire from the pro tour at the 2016 Australian Open, but his trademark fighting spirit and classic US Open matches throughout the years will always be remembered.
Mardy Fish: The former world No. 7 and 2008 US Open quarterfinalist retired from tennis at this year’s US Open, able to leave the game on his own terms. A series of major health issues ranging from heart arrhythmia to anxiety disorder had taken him off the tour for the better part of three years. He overcame his anxiety disorder to play a full schedule this summer on the Emirates Airline US Open Series and then won his first-round match at the US Open against Marco Cecchinato. He fell in five sets to eventual quarterfinalist Feliciano Lopez in the next round, but earned the respect and admiration of the US Open crowd and proved why he was always one of the most popular players on tour.
Lisa Raymond: The American doubles specialist retired from professional tennis after making her 26th consecutive appearance at the US Open, losing in the first round of women’s doubles and second round of mixed doubles. During her enduring career, she won six Grand Slam women’s doubles titles (including the US Open in 2001, 2005 and 2011), five Grand Slam mixed doubles titles (including the US Open in 1996 and 2002) and a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics. And we’ll likely be seeing her at future US Opens: she has already transitioned to a coaching role in joining the team for world No. 19 Madison Keys.
Michael Russell: No less of an authority figure than John McEnroe once said that “nobody is going to try harder on a tennis court than Michael Russell.” The 37-year-old retired from the pro tour after losing in the round of 16 of the men’s doubles draw with fellow American Donald Young, marking the first time he had advanced past the second round at a Grand Slam since 2001. Russell reached a career-high singles ranking of No. 60 in 2007 and made 11 main draw appearances at the US Open.
The Grandstand: The Grandstand has been stationed in the shadow of Louis Armstrong Stadium since 1978, and this year, it held its final matches. It will only be used for practices in 2016 and a new Louis Armstrong Stadium will be built in its place for 2018. Some of the most memorable matches at the US Open have taken place on the Grandstand, and this year was no exception, with highlights including the final victory of Fish’s career and Hewitt’s final singles match at the US Open.