They traveled from far and wide to watch Serena — no last name necessary, befitting someone as much an idol as a great athlete — train, play, and, as it turned out, win a match at the U.S. Open on Monday night. Record crowds filled Arthur Ashe Stadium to cheer and applaud with her.
Serena Williams isn’t quite prepared to leave just yet. Evidently, neither are her followers. They were audible and clear to her.
Williams overcame a shaky start to defeat Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 in her opening match at what is anticipated to be the final U.S. Open — and tournament — of her remarkable playing career, even if she insists that she won’t quite say so. The victory took place in an environment more akin to a festival than a farewell.
Which evening memory will stay with her the most?
“The welcome I received as I left was really overwhelming. I could feel it in my chest, and it was loud. The player with six U.S. Open victories and 23 Grand Slam victories overall—numbers unmatched by any other player in the history of the sport’s professional era—said, “It was a pretty fantastic feeling.
It’s a sensation I’ll always remember, she continued. Yes, that was very meaningful to me.
It became an event with a capital “E” during this initial matchup versus Kovinic, a 27-year-old Montenegrin player who is ranked 80th. Spike Lee took part in the coin toss before the game. Bill Clinton, a former president, sat in the audience. Additionally, Mike Tyson and Martina Navratilova were seated close to one another. Olympia Williams, who turns 5 on Thursday, was seated next to her father and grandmother and wore white beads in her hair, exactly like her mother did when she won the U.S. Open for the first time at the age of 17 in 1999.
Serena Williams not done yet; wins 1st match at US Open https://t.co/1TpT3Hj32T
— WPBF 25 News (@WPBF25News) August 30, 2022
Williams, who is now 40, announced in an essay for Vogue three weeks ago that she was prepared to focus on having a second child and her venture capital firm.
Williams responded with a knowing smile when asked whether this will undoubtedly be her last tournament following her triumph on Monday: “Yeah, I’ve been fairly vague about it, right?”
“I’m going to keep ambiguous because you never know,” she continued.
More than 23,000 spectators attended the night session, setting a record for the competition, and the venue was as noisy as ever. Thousands more watched on a television screen outside the arena. louder than any other first-round game, for sure.
They both referred to the decibel level as “insane.” Kovinic said that neither she nor Williams could hear the ball leave the strings of their respective rackets.
Williams wasn’t at her best early on. Perhaps it was the importance of the time. There were two mistakes. Other possibilities and missed strokes. She immediately fell down 3-2 after taking the lead 2-0. Williams then started to resemble the champion she has been for years and less so the player who entered this match with a 1-3 record since making her comeback from a nearly one-year absence from the tour in late June.
At this point, everything is truly a bonus for me, Williams admitted. It’s excellent to have this experience under my belt. Simply said, I’m not even considering that. I’m only considering the present time. I believe it’s healthy for me to simply be present right now.
She breezed through the final game of the first set, finishing it with a service winner to which she gave her customary “Come on!” clenched fist reaction. The conclusion of the one-hour, forty-minute competition was accompanied by tremendous acclaim, as though another trophy had been won.
There is, however, still a tonne of work tremendous be done. On Wednesday, Williams will compete in the singles second round against Estonia’s No. 2 seed Anett Kontveit. Williams and her sister Venus are both registered in the doubles category, and their opening encounter is scheduled for Wednesday or Thursday.
Williams addressed the audience, “Just keep cheering for me as long as I’m here.
They will, for sure. They came come to pay tribute to her and express their gratitude for all that she has done, both on and off the court. The phrase “We (Heart) Serena” was written on blue, white, or red placards that were handed out to spectators at their seats after Serena’s victory over Kovinic.
Williams’ entry was preceded by a tribute film narrated by Queen Latifah, who referred to the American as the “Queen of Queens” after Kovinic was presented just by name, making it plain to even her how inconsequential she was on this sweltering evening. Williams was referred to as “the best of all time” by the announcer in the arena, who added, “This U.S. Open marks the concluding chapter of her remarkable tennis history.”
Many people value her greatly. as a tennis participant as a female as a Black American. being a mother. as a woman in business.
“When she first started, female athletes were underappreciated. Quintella Thorn, a 68-year-old from Columbus, Georgia, who is attending the U.S. Open for the eighth time, remarked, “She’s done so much. And just now, she’s
Using the word Williams claims she prefers to “retirement,” Thorn’s friend Cora Monroe, 72, of Shreveport, Louisiana, added, “Evolving.”
That is why Monday at a big event was more significant than the customary Day 1. And why does the daily program features a montage of six pictures of Williams holding her six U.S. Open medals over the caption: “Serena Williams, A Legacy of Greatness” rather than mentioning any other of other athletes competing? And why did other elite players’ victories feel less significant, such as those of 18-year-old American Coco Gauff, a semifinalist at the French Open, Andy Murray, Daniil Medvedev, and Bianca Andreescu, former winners of the U.S. Open?
Gauff anticipated watching Williams in Ashe after her own 6-2, 6-3 triumph over Leolia Jeanjean earlier on the day. Gauff credited Williams for encouraging her to play tennis. Gauff had intended to watch the event on television, but she later changed her mind because it was too crucial to miss.
“Everyone is going to support her. I’m going to support her,” Gauff declared. “It’s going to be one of the most exciting tennis matches ever,” someone said.