ecstatic 'to just live in the moment,' Serena Williams begins her US Open campaign with a straight-sets victory.

 Ecstatic 'to just live in the moment,' Serena Williams begins her US Open campaign with a straight-sets victory.

ecstatic 'to just live in the moment,' Serena Williams begins her US Open campaign with a straight-sets victory.

Venus, 42, has not announced her retirement plans, but she has played sparingly in the last year.

Williams said she was excited to continue her singles run, but she wasn't thinking about her next match just yet.

"Right now, everything is a bonus for me," Williams said. "I mean, I believe every opponent is extremely difficult. That's something I've noticed this summer. The following one is even more difficult.

"It's great that I was able to complete this task. I'm not sure, I'm just not thinking about it. I'm only thinking about this right now. I believe it is best for me to simply live in the present moment."

When asked if this was her final tournament, Williams responded with a knowing smile, "Yeah, I've been pretty vague about it, right?"

"I'm going to be vague, because you never know," she added.

Even her pre-match practice drew thousands of fans cramming in to catch a glimpse of the legend, with rows lined up to catch a glimpse through a mesh fence.

Despite the attention and the fact that she had lost three of her four matches since returning to Wimbledon after a year's absence, Williams was not ready to call it a career just yet. Williams glided around the court — and twirled at the end — on Monday, wearing a figure-skating-inspired dress originally designed with six layers to represent all six of her US Open titles (but ultimately with four removed due to their weight) and matching diamonds in her hair. In the 99-minute match, she had nine aces and 22 winners.

Rennae Stubbs, a former player who is now a coach and analyst, has been working with Williams in New York this week. Stubbs told ABC prior to the match that Williams was nervous but that she was still preparing for the match and the tournament with her trademark intensity.

"The practices have been extremely difficult," Stubbs said on Monday. "She's worked extremely hard this week. She practiced with other players, which she had never done before. And, you know, she's doing everything she can to perform at her peak tonight."

Williams will play No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round on Wednesday, in addition to playing doubles with sister Venus, whom she referred to as her "rock" on Monday. They have won 14 major titles as a team, the most recent being Wimbledon in 2016. This is their first match together since the 2018 French Open. On Wednesday or Thursday, they will face Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova in their first match.

"First and foremost, thank you; I didn't expect any of this," Williams said to the crowd before thanking the fans for pulling her through to victory.

In defeat, Kovinic was gracious, saying it was "maybe once in a lifetime to play against Serena, especially in a night session match on Arthur Ashe," and that it was a "experience that I could only think of and dream of maybe in my entire career."

Tickets for Monday's night session quickly became scarce following Williams' announcement in Vogue. According to TickPick, a secondary ticket website, Monday's night session cost more than any previous US Open women's final. According to ticket analytics firm TicketIQ, the average secondary market ticket price was $987 as of Monday morning. The night session drew 29,402 spectators, a new high for the US Open.

Serena Williams' anticipated retirement will have to be postponed. On Monday night, the 23-time major champion defeated Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the US Open.

"You know, I always just have to do my best," Williams told the crowd after the match. "I feel so at ease on this court, in front of everyone.

"When I step onto the court, all I want to do is do my best on that particular day. That's really all I can offer."

Williams, 40, has been on a farewell tour since announcing her intention to "evolve" from tennis in a first-person essay in Vogue earlier this month. She received standing ovations at both the Canadian Open and the Western & Southern Open.

On Monday night, the nearly 24,000-person crowd, which included former President Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Lindsey Vonn, Bella Hadid, Rebel Wilson, Vera Wang, Mike Tyson, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Gladys Knight, Martina Navratilova, and even Coco Gauff, was on its feet before Williams even took the court. Following a video narrated by Queen Latifah summarizing her legendary career, Williams was introduced to the crowd as the "Greatest Of All Time," prompting loud applause that lasted throughout the match.

"The response was extremely positive," Williams told reporters. "It was loud, and I felt it in my chest. It was a fantastic feeling. It's a sensation I'll never forget, so I really appreciated it."

It was Williams' 102nd victory at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the most by any player since it opened in 1997, and it brought her Grand Slam total to 366. Following the match, Williams was honored with an on-court ceremony that included Gayle King and Billie Jean King, as well as an Oprah Winfrey video titled "Thank you, Serena."

No comments
Post a Comment

    Reading Mode :
    Font Size
    lines height