NEW YORK — Bethanie Mattek-Sands got down on her right knee to hit a volley and landed unscathed on her right leg with each backhand.
Mattek-Sands never felt the searing pain at Flushing Meadows as she did when she was left crumpled on the court last year at Wimbledon, her plea to walk off on her own power rebuffed because her right kneecap had been so ruptured she would need a stretcher.
She just wanted in her recovery to flex her knee, never mind think about winning another Grand Slam title.
"If I thought about holding a U.S. Open trophy last year, I would have been discouraged," Mattek-Sands said.
Step-by-step, Mattek-Sands recovered — and got that trophy.
Mattek-Sands and Jamie Murray rallied to beat Alicja Rosolska and Nikola Mektic 2-6, 6-3, 11-9 on Saturday and win the U.S. Open mixed doubles title.
Murray won his second straight U.S. Open mixed doubles title — 2017 partner Martin Hingis was in his box at Arthur Ashe Stadium cheering the pair — and he became the first man to win consecutive U.S. Open mixed doubles titles since Bob Bryan in 2003 and 2004.
"Mixed doubles is a whole different animal," Murray said. "You’re playing with someone you don’t get to practice a lot with. You’re communicating a lot more, figuring out what your strengths are, what you’re going to do against or opponents that day strategizing."
The first-time the pair figured it out over two weeks in New York.
The 32-year-old Murray, brother of former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Andy Murray, played with Mattek-Sands for the first time in the tournament. Mattek-Sands has also won mixed doubles Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open and the French Open. Murray had three other Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.
Rosolska and Mektic also played together for the first time in what was the first all-unseeded doubles final at the U.S. Open since 2009.
Murray and Mattek-Sands received $155,000 for winning the championship.
The title was personal to both, for reasons beyond the result.
Murray’s mother, Judy, was in the stands for the final on her birthday — Jamie Murray joked to the crowd his mom had turned 75 and then led a rendition of "Happy Birthday."
Judy Murray later clarified to laughter in the media centre that she was not 75.
"Me and Andy, we’ve done some pretty amazing things on the tennis court, considering where we’ve come from," Murray said. "But actually what my mum has been able to do is almost bigger in the grand scheme of things, I think."
Mattek-Sands, her right arm inked in tattoos, choked back tears as she recalled the times she couldn’t even get out of bed immediately after her gruesome injury.
"I really had to look at myself in the mirror and decide how I wanted to wake up every day despite my circumstances not being how I envisioned them," she said. "I think I just kept that philosophy throughout my rehab, throughout my comeback. Here I am sitting next to Jamie holding the trophy."