Serena Williams opens the US Open with a singles win
Serena Williams, playing in the final tennis tournament of her career, opened singles play with a 6-3, 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in the first round of the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Williams will open doubles with her sister Venus on Wednesday.
Williams will face world No. 2 Annette Kontaveit of Estonia in the singles round of 64 on Wednesday. This will be the first meeting of his career.
After struggling early on her serve on Monday evening, Williams won 10 of the final 13 games against the 27-year-old Kovinic of Montenegro, ranked 80th in the world.
After the match, at a ceremony celebrating her tennis career, Williams said she was cheered by the voices of nearly 24,000 people. “The crowd was crazy,” she said.
Williams double-faulted twice in the first game but eventually saw her first serve percentage rise to 66%. She won 33 out of 43 first serve points.
A key moment came in the sixth game of the first set when Kovinic led 4-2. But Williams’ shot, which looked long and wide, was clipped to the back of the baseline and the outside edge of the singles side. It was the first of 11 points for Williams as she coasted the rest of the way.
It was Williams’ third match since announcing she would “walk away from tennis”.
“I’ve never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’m thinking of it as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, meaning something specific. And important to a community of people,” Williams said in a Vogue article published earlier this month.
“Evolution is probably the best word to describe what I’m doing. I’m here to say that I’m evolving away from tennis and into other things that are important to me,” she said.
In her post-match press conference, she was asked if this would be her last tournament.
“Yeah, I was pretty vague about that, right?” she said with a smile. “I’m going to stay vague because you never know.”
But earlier on the court, Williams, 40, said it was a difficult decision to move on.
“I think when you’re passionate about something and you love something so much, it’s always hard to walk away,” she said. “Sometimes I think walking away is harder than not walking away. That’s what happened to me.”
When Gayle King was asked what the future holds for her, Williams pointed to her venture capital company and also said she wanted to work on her spiritual life.
Williams’ singles victory was witnessed by her husband, Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter, Olympia, a young woman wearing white beads in her hair, reminiscent of Williams’ look when she won six US Open titles as a teenager in 1999. .
“I’m excited to wake up and be like, OK, I don’t have to run the court today,” Williams said. “I’m just looking forward to being a mom. She’s a great girl. I just want to be a great mom to her.”
Ukraine’s Daria Snigur, who won the qualifiers for the tournament on Monday, defeated seventh seed Simona Halep of Romania in three sets 6-2, 0-6, 6-4.
“This match is for Ukraine, for my family, for all the fans who support me. I want to thank you all,” said an emotional Snigur.
It was Snigur’s first-ever Grand Slam match at this level. She won the Wimbledon girls’ singles title in 2019.