In the first round of the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Serena Williams defeated Danka Kovini 6-3, 6-3 to start singles play in what is most certainly the final tennis competition of her illustrious career.
On Wednesday, Venus and Williams will debut in doubles.
On Wednesday, Williams will play Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, the world’s No. 2, in the 64-player singles round. It will be their first professional encounter.
After initially having issues with her serve on Monday night, Williams defeated Kovini, a 27-year-old Montenegrin who is ranked 80th in the world, by winning 10 of the final 13 games.
At a ceremony honouring her tennis career after the match, Williams claimed that the enthusiastic audience of around 24,000 spectators gave her a lift. She described the gathering as “wild.”
Despite twice double-faulting in the opening game, Williams finally increased her first serve percentage to 66%. 33 of 43 first serve points went her way.
The opening set’s sixth game, in which Kovini looked to be heading toward a 4-2 advantage, was a turning point. Williams, though, managed to nip the outside edge of the singles sideline and the back of the baseline with a ball that appeared far and wide but was neither. Williams scored her first in a string of 11 straight points before coasting the rest of the way.
Williams had played three times after declaring she would “grow away from tennis.”
“Retirement has never been a word I’ve loved. It doesn’t strike me as a contemporary word. Although I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, I want to be careful how I use that word because it has a very particular and significant meaning to a group of individuals “Williams stated in an essay for Vogue that was released earlier this month.
“Perhaps the simplest way to sum up what I’m doing is to call it evolutionary. I’m come to let you know that I’m moving away from tennis and toward other essential things “She spoke.
She was questioned about whether or not this tournament will be her last at her post-match press conference.
She smiled and added, “Yeah, I’ve been fairly vague about it, right?” I won’t say anything specific since you never know.
Williams, 40, said earlier on the court that moving on was a difficult decision.
“I think it’s always hard to walk away when you’re passionate about something and you love something so much,” she remarked. “Sometimes I believe that walking away is harder than staying put. I’ve found it to be the case.”
Williams mentioned her venture capital firm and stated that she wanted to improve her spiritual life in response to Gayle King’s question on what victory will look like for her in the future.
Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter, Olympia, were present for her singles victory. Olympia had white beads in her hair like Williams did when she won the first of her six US Open championships as a teenager in 1999.
Williams remarked, “I look forward to waking up and just thinking, OK, I don’t have to race to the court today. “I’m excited to focus on being a mom. Such a wonderful girl, she is. All I want to do is be a good mother to her.”
Also on Monday, Daria Snigur of Ukraine defeated Romania’s Simona Halep, the No. 7 seed, in three sets, 6-2, 0-6, 6-4. Snigur had won her qualifying rounds to advance to the tournament.
“This game is being played for Ukraine, my family, and all of my supporters. I want to thank everyone “Snigur spoke in a tearful tone.
At this level, it was Snigur’s first Grand Slam match. In 2019, she won the Wimbledon girls’ singles championship.