Brengle stuns Serena Williams in New Zealand: ‘It’s something you dream about’

AUKLAND, New Zealand — Most athletes can be their own harshest critic at times.

Madison Brengle is no different.

During a crossover break in her match with Serena Williams on Wednesday, video cameras caught the Dover native in a moment of self-depricating humor.

“I think she is surprised how bad I am,” Brengle joked to her coach, Nicole Melichar.

In the end, though, it was Brengle who had the last laugh.

In what has to be one of the highlights of the 26-year-old’s pro tennis career, No. 72-ranked Brengle shocked No. 2 Serena Williams, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 in the second round of the ASB Classic in an early-morning match on Wednesday.

Unfortunately for Brengle, though, she couldn’t keep that momentum going, falling to No. 44-ranked Jaleno Ostapenko, 7-5, 6-3, in the ASB quarterfinals. The match was played about 20 hours after Brengle’s momentous win over Williams.

Against Williams, Brengle rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win the first set before breaking Williams’ serve to win the final game and topple the 22-time Grand Slam tournament winner.

“It’s something you dream about,” Brengle told reporters afterward. “You get to play to Serena, and to have this result and to have it in your pocket gives you a little extra of confidence.

“It was really cool and a great way to start the year.”

Brengle had faced Williams only once before, falling 6-0, 6-1 in Madrid in 2015. But after the slow start on Wednesday, Brengle just kept finding ways to battle back in the windy conditions.

“I tried to change it up a lot, use my forehand slice, play angles and get as many balls back as I possibly could,” she said. “I knew I had to do something a little bit different.”

Williams, on the other hand, often struggled during the 2 hour, 13-minute match.

The 35-year-old was credited with 88 unforced errors. The final point in the match came when Williams double-faulted, hitting her last serve just wide.

The ASB Classic, a warmup for the Australian Open, was Williams’ first tourney in four months as she recovered from some injuries.

“She obviously did a much better job than I did,” Williams said about Brengle. “I really abhorred the conditions. I don’t think I’ve ever hit 88 errors in my career; I could Google that and that’s probably accurate.

“I really think I played — I’m trying to think of a word that’s not obscene — but that’s how I played,” added Williams. “You really have to go back to the drawing board, because it’s quite frankly unprofessional.”

Brengle, though, will gladly take the upset victory as another big moment in her recent string of notable accomplishments.

She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open in 2015.

Before beating Williams, Brengle had a pair of upsets over Top 10-players — both coming against Petra Kvitová. She beat Kvitová when she was No. 4 in the world in 2015 and when she was No. 8 in 2016.

In the quarterfinals, Brengle got off to a good start against Ostapenko. Facing the 19-year-old from Latvia for the first time, Brengle won the first three games.

But Ostapenko answered by winning the next five games. Brengle was able to get the set back to 5-5 before Ostapenko won the last two games.

It was 2-2 in the second set before Ostapenko won four of the final five games to take the victory.


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