Serena Williams' goodbye to U.S. Open a ratings boon to ESPN

By DAVID BAUDER AP Media Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — It could have been just one night, but Serena Williams' exit from tennis turned into a boon for ESPN.

The network had four prime-time nights of tennis last week, with the three Williams singles matches and her doubles match with sister Venus.

Serena's third-round defeat at the hands of Ajla Tomljanovic had the largest audience of any tennis match in ESPN's 43-year history, beating the 3.9 million who watched the 2012 Wimbledon men's final between Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

ESPN officials say they hope for a "halo effect" from Williams' last run before retirement that will boost the ratings for the rest of the Open.

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