17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova loses French Open semifinal, ending fairytale run

Amanda Anisimova was beaten by Australian Ashleigh Barty in a dramatic three-set contest.
Image: Amanda Anisimova
Amanda Anisimova plays a forehand during her ladies singles semifinal match against Ashleigh Barty of Australia during the French Open in Paris, France.Clive Mason / Getty Images

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By Saphora Smith

LONDON — American teenager Amanda Anisimova’s fairytale run came to an end Friday as she lost in the semifinals of the French Open.

Anisimova was beaten by Australian Ashleigh Barty in a dramatic three-set contest 7-6, 3-6, 3-6.

Barty, the number 8 seed, will face the Czech Republic’s Markéta Vondroušová in the final this weekend.

While Anisimova’s dreams of reaching the final may have slipped away, the unseeded 17-year-old’s stunning performance in the first five rounds of the tournament marked her out as a rising star in women’s tennis.

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The teenager, who is ranked number 51 in the world, stormed through the first five matches without dropping a set. In the quarterfinals Thursday, she stunned onlookers and seemingly herself by defeating defending champion Simona Halep in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.

“I can’t believe it,” Anisimova said on court after her win Thursday. "I've been working so hard, but I didn't think it would pay off like this. This is honestly more than anything I could ask for."

It was only three years ago that Anisimova lost in the final of the girls tournament at the French Open, but her victory over Halep Thursday secured her a place in history as the first player born in the 2000s to reach a Grand Slam semifinal.

It also made her the youngest American woman to reach a semifinal since the 1997 U.S. Open, when Venus Williams made it to the final (and lost) against Martina Hingis, according to the Women’s Tennis Association.

Anisimova made her French Open debut two years ago, earning a wild-card spot aged just 15. She won her first Tour title this year in Bogotá, Colombia, becoming the youngest American to win a title since Serena Williams won Indian Wells in 1999, according to Reuters.

The daughter of Russian immigrants who moved to the U.S. in 1998, Anisimova was born in New Jersey in 2001 before her family moved to Florida, where many professional tennis players live and train.

Reflecting on her early interest in the sport, Anisimova points to the influence of her elder sister, Maria, who played for the University of Pennsylvania.

"I always saw her playing, and I wanted to do it, too. That’s how I got into it and my parents got into it, too,” Anisimova told the Women's Tennis Association.

While she speaks Russian as well as English, Anisimova said she has never considered representing Russia on court. “I do plan on going, though,” she told The New York Times in 2017. “I really want to visit and see what it’s like and see the culture more.”