It was the first all-American US Open final in over 20 years but more importantly, it would be Venus Williams’ first US Open title, and the first to be watched by a sitting US President.
She had already seen her sister become the first African-American to win the tournament in the Open Era, with the great Althea Gibson having been a champion at the US Nationals, and it would be her fourth attempt having made the final on her debut, and falling twice in the semi-finals.
Over their careers they enjoyed an impressive rivalry, including eight times over Slams with Davenport halting Williams in the 1998 semi-finals.
In 2000 at Wimbledon, it would be Williams who got the better of the defending champion, and as they faced each other in Flushing Meadows, Williams found herself 1-4 down. She reeled off six games in a row to take the first set.
Aged just 20, and already reknowned for her athleticism, fearsome groundstrokes and a thundering serve, she would just edge the second set to win her first US Open title. After the match, Venus said:
“This was a very nice victory because I feel like I played Lindsay when she was playing some of her best tennis.”
On her trip to the title, she had beaten both the World no. 1 and 2. Davenport praised her opponent after the match:
“Venus was playing great. She forced me to play better and I couldn’t do it.”
The match was also notable for the fact that President Bill Clinton would be in the crowd (so far the first and the only sitting president to do so), although he left before the end of the match thanks to a rain delay.
Clinton would call Williams to congratulate her, at which point she asked if her taxes would be lowered, but given the prize money awarded, he joked that perhaps there needed to be new rules for athletes.