Serena Williams’ emotional final match of her career drew impressive viewership for ESPN.
Per the network, 4.8 million viewers watched Williams’ three set loss to Ajla Tomljanovich in the third round of the US Open. Sports Media Watch notes that makes it the most-watched tennis match, regardless of network, since Williams’ quarterfinal match with her sister Venus in a 2015 US Open quarterfinal, which drew six million viewers.
The full window averaged 4.6 million viewers, making it ESPN’s most-watched tennis window ever. Viewership for the window topped everything that aired on Friday, and also beat out all of Thursday’s college football games (Fox’s broadcast of Penn State-Purdue topped the heap with 3.512 million viewers). ESPN shifted a Western Michigan-Michigan State game from ESPN to ESPN2 on Friday, and that game drew 1.345 million viewers, good for Friday’s most-watched college football game but drawing less than half the viewership of the Williams-Tomljanovich match.
ESPN also noted in their release that the Williams sisters’ doubles match on Thursday night averaged 2.2 million viewers on ESPN2, with the full window drawing 1.512 million viewers. Serena’s second round win on Wednesday averaged 3.6 million viewers, with the full window drawing 2.273 million viewers.