In what is undoubtedly the final tennis match of her remarkable career, Serena Williams defeated Danka Kovini in the first round of the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 6-3, 6-3.
Venus and Williams will make their doubles debut on Wednesday.
In the 64-player singles round on Wednesday, Williams will take on Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, the No. 2 player in the world. It will be their initial business interaction.
Williams overcame Kovini, a 27-year-old Montenegrin who is ranked 80th in the world, on Monday night after initially struggling with her serve. Williams won 10 of the match’s final 13 games.
Following the match, Williams remarked that the enthusiastic crowd of about 24,000 people gave her a boost during a ceremony honouring her tennis career. She characterised the crowd as “crazy.”
Even though Williams double-failed twice in the first game, she eventually raised her first serve percentage to 66%. She won 33 out of 43 first serve points.
The sixth game of the first set, when Kovini seemed to be on the verge of taking a 4-2 lead, was a turning point. Williams, however, used a ball that appeared long and wide but was neither to nip the outside edge of the singles sideline and the back of the baseline. Prior to coasting for the remainder of the game, Williams scored the first of a run of 11 straight points.
Following her declaration that she would “grow away from tennis,” Williams had played three times.
“I’ve never been a big fan of the word “retirement.” It doesn’t seem like a modern word to me. I want to use the word “transition” carefully because it has a very specific and important meaning to a certain group of people, despite the fact that I have been thinking of this as a transition “Williams made this claim in a Vogue story that was published earlier this month.
“It might be easiest to describe what I’m doing as evolutionary. I’m here to inform you that I’m shifting my focus away from tennis and toward other important things “She stated.
During her post-match press conference, she was asked if this tournament would be her last.
Yeah, I’ve been really cryptic about it, right?” she added with a smile. Since you can never be sure, I won’t mention anything specific.
Williams, 40, acknowledged earlier on the court that choosing to move on was a challenging choice.
When you’re enthusiastic about something and genuinely love something, it’s difficult to let go, she said. “I think there are instances when leaving is harder than staying. It’s what I’ve observed to be true.”
Williams was asked what winning might look like for her in the future by Gayle King, and in answer she highlighted her venture capital firm and that she wanted to strengthen her spiritual life.
Williams won the singles match in front of her husband Alexis Ohanian and their daughter Olympia. As when Williams won the first of her six US Open titles as a teenager in 1999, Olympia had white beads in her hair.
I look forward to waking up and just realising that I don’t have to rush to the court today, Williams said.
I can’t wait to concentrate on being a mom. She is such a good girl. Being a good mother to her is all I want to do.
Also on Monday, the No. 7 seed from Romania, Simona Halep, was upset in three sets by Ukrainian Daria Snigur, 6-2, 0-6, 6-4. Snigur advanced to the event by winning her qualifying rounds.
“For Ukraine, my family, and all of my supporters, I’m playing this game. I’d like to thank everybody “Snigur murmured softly as she was crying.
It was Snigur’s first Grand Slam match at this level. She won the Wimbledon girls’ singles title in 2019.