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Playing doubles together at a Grand Slam for the first time since Roland Garros in 2018—and for the first time at the US Open since 2014—the Williams sisters fell in the first round on Thursday night to Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova, 7-6 (5), 6-4.

It’s just the second time that the Williams sisters have lost in the first round of doubles at a major, not counting walkovers—they fell first round in the very first major they played together, the 1997 US Open, to the Canadian-American duo of Jill Hetherington and Kathy Rinaldi-Stunkel.

Serena and Venus were just 15 and 17 years old then.

“I’m still in shock that we won, because it’s the first time we’ve played together,” Hradecka, a two-time Grand Slam doubles champion, said in the on-court interview afterwards.

“I’m so sorry that we beat them.”

“Playing against the Williams sisters is a special moment for everybody, anyone and anytime,” the 17-year-old Noskova added.


Hradecka and Noskova were playing together as a team for the very first time.

Hradecka and Noskova were playing together as a team for the very first time.

In front of another sell-out crowd of 23,859 on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the Williams sisters went toe-to-toe with the Czech duo, and they had several chances to take the first set. They had two set points with Noskova serving at 4-5, and they also had a 5-3 lead in the tie-break.

Even after falling behind 7-6 (5), 4-1, Venus and Serena kept fighting, winning to level the second set, but the Czechs held and broke one last time to close it out after 2:05 on court.

“I think we were a little bit more aggressive. We were trying to go into the net a little bit more,” Noskova said. “It was really close, the first set—it was the main thing for us to win.”

The Williams sisters are one of the most accomplished women’s doubles teams in the Open Era with 14 Grand Slam titles together: four at the Australian Open, two at Roland Garros, six at Wimbledon and two at the US Open. They also have three Olympic gold medals, from Sydney in 2000, Beijing in 2008 and London in 2012.

Venus’ tournament is now over, as she fell in the first round of singles to Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck. But Serena’s singles tournament continues on Friday night, as she takes on world No. 46 Ajla Tomljanovic for a spot in the second week.