As the disbelief of winning her first Grand Slam women’s doubles title began to set in Friday afternoon, Laura Siegemund had an important question for the chair umpire, Eva Asderaki-Moore:
“Are we allowed to give a hug?”
With Asderaki-Moore’s blessing, Siegemund embraced her partner, Vera Zvonareva, to cap off their 6-4, 6-4 win over Nicole Melichar and Xu Yifan.
“I’m very emotional, usually, at the end of a match,” Siegemund told reporters afterward. “I’m, like, screaming and jumping. I want to hug my partner — I have this urge. That was always kind of awkward to stay away from each other, do that pretty cold racket move. Today I was like, What the heck. But I asked permission at least.”
Siegemund joked that she had at least checked, “unlike the men,” before breaching the social distancing protocols the U.S. Open has sought to enforce even within doubles pairs.
“We can’t be disqualified for that right now, right?” Zvonareva said in the news conference. “OK, so be it. It’s special to win.”
The closeness in the emotional moment was most likely a solace for both, who have struggled with the separation from their families during the tournament. Siegemund’s aunt Helga, the twin sister of her mother, died of cancer nearly three weeks ago, when Siegemund was already in New York for tennis. Her aunt’s funeral took place Friday.
“I tried to be as supportive as I could,” Siegemund said of her family. “Some things are more important than your career. When it comes to family, and you cannot be there in the last moments of someone — be at a funeral — that’s hard.”
Siegemund said her aunt’s death had put her in a difficult position.
“It’s my job to be here, on the road,” she said. “It was really hard. That was something in my head. You’re functioning; you do your job — we did it well — but it was something in my mind.”
Siegemund dedicated the victory to her aunt during the trophy ceremony, pointing upward and saying, “I think she has the best seat in the house,” before blowing a kiss to the sky.
Zvonareva, who was in her first U.S. Open final since reaching the singles final in 2010, also had to cope with family separation during the tournament, being apart from her 4-year-old daughter, Evelyn.
“My daughter was watching a little bit, but she gets bored after, like, maybe 30 seconds of watching me,” Zvonareva said. When her husband tried to get their daughter to congratulate Zvonareva on the victory over the phone, she offered a belated birthday wish.
“It was my birthday a few days ago, and when my husband told her, ‘OK, say congratulations to Mommy,’ she said, ‘Mommy, happy birthday!’” Zvonareva said, laughing. “Well, it was five days ago, but I’ll still take it.”