Serena Williams entered the U.S. Open as a sentimental long shot, who, at 50-1 to win the tournament, didn't receive much support from bettors. That's changed.
The betting public is flocking to bet Williams in her third-round match on Friday against Ajla Tomljanovic (7 p.m. ET, ESPN) and to win the tournament in what's expected to be her final Grand Slam. Williams, 40, has said she plans to "evolve away from tennis" after the U.S. Open.
The betting action on Friday's match is heavy and lopsided on Williams at multiple sportsbooks. A spokesperson for sportsbook PointsBet told ESPN that the Williams-Tomljanovic match will be the most heavily bet match of the U.S. Open so far, men's or women's, "by a landslide." As of Friday afternoon, 90% of the bets and 95% of the money wagered was on Williams in the match at PointsBet.
Williams had attracted 82% of the money bet on Friday's match at Caesars Sportsbook, where her odds to win the tournament have improved from 50-1 to 14-1 after back-to-back wins.
Before the tournament, Williams received only 5.5% of the bets on the outright winner at Caesars. There were 17 bets of $1,000 or more on the outright winner before the tournament; none of them were on Williams. Bigger bets showed up on Williams this week, though. She is the only player to receive multiple $1,000-plus bets since the tournament began and now has attracted the most bets and most money at Caesars Sportsbook.
"Everybody is getting excited for Serena, and for good reason," Adam Pullen, assistant director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, said in a company release. "She has a winnable match coming up next, so the more she progresses, the more interest there will be betting-wise."
Entering Friday's match, 40% of the bets on the tournament winner at DraftKings were on Williams, which is nearly three times as many wagers as any other player had garnered.