Serena Williams' US Open farewell most-watched tennis match in ESPN history

Serena fights back tears in emotional postmatch interview (3:10)

Serena Williams thanks her parents, her sisters and millions of fans in an emotional farewell interview at the US Open. (3:10)

Serena Williams was a smash hit in the ratings for her apparent final US Open match.

ESPN said Tuesday that Williams' expected farewell to Flushing Meadows was the most-watched tennis telecast in the network's 43-year history. Her loss last Friday to Ajla Tomljanovic drew 4.6 million viewers. The previous record of 3.9 million was for the 2012 Wimbledon final, when Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray, in ESPN's first year with exclusivity.

The ratings peaked for the Williams match at 6.9 million viewers in the 10:15 p.m. quarter-hour as the match wound down. Through the first five days of the US Open, an average of 1.1. million viewers tuned in to ESPN networks, up 101% versus 2021. These are the most-viewed first five days of the US Open on record on ESPN networks.

Williams' second-round victory over Anett Kontaveit averaged 3.6 million viewers.