Williams begins US Open farewell with victory
Serena Williams enthralled a bumper US Open crowd as the American icon earned a first-round victory against Danka Kovinic, in what the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion has suggested will be her swangsong.
In front of more than 29,000 fans packed into Arthur Ashe Stadium, Williams overcame some early errors and a spate of double-faults to beat her Montenegrin rival 6-3 6-3.
The six-time US Open winner will next face Estonian second seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday, in what promises to be a much sterner test than the one which the 27-year-old Kovinic, ranked world number 80, put up on Monday night in New York.
Williams headed to Flushing Meadows after revealing in a lengthy Vogue article earlier this month that she was “evolving” away from tennis, indicating that this year’s US Open would be the last time fans see her on court.
The retirement news followed a year-long injury hiatus which ended when Williams returned to Grand Slam action in Wimbledon in June, where she was beaten in the first round.
The 40-year-old did win a match at the Canadian Open earlier in August, but later suffered a first-round rout at the hands of reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu at the Cincinnati Masters.
Despite those occasions and the US Open being treated as a farewell to the woman many consider to be the greatest ever to play tennis, Williams said she would remain “vague” about her exact plans when asked on court after her victory over Kovinic.
“I’m going to stay vague because you never know,” said Williams, who has also signed up to the doubles in New York alongside her sister Venus.