I’m so happy to live in the moment,’ Serena Williams begins US Open run with straight-sets win

The anticipated retirement of Serena Williams will have to wait. At the US Open on Monday night, the 23-time major champion defeated Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 to get to the second round.


“You know, I always just got to do the best that I can,” After the game, Williams said to the audience. “I feel so comfortable on this court”, in front of everyone here.


“When I step out on the court, I just want to do my best that I can on that particular day. That’s really all I can really do.”


Williams, 40, has been granted a type of farewell tour since announcing her intention to “evolve” from tennis in a first-person article published in Vogue earlier this month. She also earned standing ovations at the Canadian Open and the Western & Southern Open.


Before Williams even stepped onto the court on Monday night, the nearly 24,000-person sold-out crowd, which included a long list of A-list celebrities and notables, including former President Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Lindsey Vonn, Rebel Wilson, Vera Wang, Mike Tyson, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Gladys Knight, Martina Navratilova, and even Coco Gauff, was standing. Williams was introduced to the fans as the “Greatest Of All Time” to raucous shouts that persisted during any pauses in the action throughout the match. This came after a film narrated by Queen Latifah summarised her illustrious career.


Williams told reporters, “It was a pretty tremendous reception.” “I could feel it in my chest, and it was loud. It was a very positive sensation. I truly — yeah, that meant a lot to me because it’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”


Williams now has 366 Grand Slam victories, which is the most of any female player since the stadium debuted in 1997. This victory was her 102nd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Following the match, Williams was honoured on the court with a ceremony that included Gayle King, Billie Jean King, and an Oprah Winfrey “Thank you, Serena” video.


“First of all, thanks, I didn’t expect any of this,” Before thanking the crowd for helping her win, Williams addressed the crowd.


Despite losing, Kovinic was gracious in his remarks, saying that playing Serena was “probably a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially in a night session match on Arthur Ashe,” and that it was “an experience that I could only conceive of and dream about maybe in my entire career.”

Following Williams’ announcement in Vogue, tickets for Monday’s night session quickly became in high demand. TickPick, a secondary ticket marketplace, reports that Monday’s night session’s admission price was the most of any US Open women’s final in history. As of Monday morning, the average secondary market ticket cost was $987, according to the ticket analytics company TicketIQ. A US Open record of 29,402 spectators attended the night session on the grounds.


Thousands of spectators crowded into even her practise before the match to get a sight of the legend, with rows lined up to look through a mesh fence.

Williams wasn’t quite ready to call it a career, despite the hoopla and the fact that she had dropped three of her four matches since making a comeback at Wimbledon after a year-long sabbatical. Williams glided around the court on Monday while donning a figure-skating-inspired dress that was originally intended to have six layers to reflect each of her six US Open victories (four of which were ultimately eliminated owing to their weight). Williams also wore matching diamonds in her hair. and displayed glimmers of the talent that has made her one of the best of all time. In the 99-minute match, she recorded 22 wins and nine aces.


Williams has been working with Rennae Stubbs, a former player who is now a coach and commentator, all week in New York. Williams was apprehensive, but Stubbs claimed she was still prepared for the match and the tournament with her usual intensity in an interview with ABC before the match.



“The practices have been really hard,” Stubbs said on Monday. “She’s practiced really, really hard this week. She’s practiced with other players, which she’s never done in the past. And, you know, she’s trying to do everything she possibly can to be at her very best tonight.”



In addition to playing doubles with her sister Venus, whom she referred to on Monday as her “rock,” Williams will next face No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday. Together, the two have won 14 major championships, most recently at Wimbledon in 2016. Since the French Open in 2018, they haven’t competed together. On either Wednesday or Thursday, the pair will make their debut against Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova.

Venus, 42, hasn’t stated that she intends to retire but has played just occasionally over the past 12 months.

Williams said she was eager to extend her winning streak in singles but wasn’t yet paying attention to her next match.


“At this point, honestly, everything is a bonus for me,” Williams said. “I mean, I think every opponent is very difficult. I’ve seen that over the summer. The next one is even more difficult.

“It’s good that I was able to get this under my belt. I don’t know, I’m just not even thinking about that. I’m just thinking about just this moment. I think it’s good for me just to live in the moment now.”

Asked if this will definitively be her final tournament, Williams replied with a knowing smile: “Yeah, I’ve been pretty vague about it, right?”

And then she added: “I’m going to stay vague, because you never know.”



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