NEW YORK — Serena Williams can call it an ‘evolution’ or ‘retirement’ or whatever she wants. You might be shy. Those 23 Grand Slam titles have earned their right.
Who knows how long this farewell will last if she continues to play.
Whatever happens when your trip to Flushing Meadows is over, here are the important things to know after Wednesday night. At 40, Williams is still alive, capable of playing great tennis and still winning. It made the crowd go wild as it once again filled Arthur Ashe Stadium with rapturous cheers.
Williams beat second-seeded Annette Contaveit 7-6(4) 2-6 6-2 in the second round of the US Open, making at least one more attempt at what she hinted would be her final tournament. made available for singles matches. her brilliant career.
“There’s still a little bit left,” Williams said with a smile during an interview on the court.
“This is what I do best,” she added. “I love challenges and I’m up for them.”
Oh how is she ever Flushing Meadows after beating No. 80-ranked Danka Kovinić in straight sets on Monday and facing Kontavate on Wednesday against a No. 1 or No. 2-ranked player for the 23rd time in his last 25 matches. The six-time champions will face each other on Friday. Spotted in the 4th round.
Her opponent is 29-year-old Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, ranked 46th in the world. they have never met.
Asked how he’s been doing so far, Williams laughed heartily.
She hit serves up to 119 mph and stayed with the contact bait during long exchanges of big swings from the baseline, evoking some of her trademark brilliance when it was needed most. rice field.
After pulling out a tight first set, Williams headed to the locker room for a bit of rest before the third after a setback in the second set.
Something had to be given and someone had to blink.
When they resumed, it was Williams who raised her level and emerged as the better player.
Just like she’s done so many things, on so many stages, on so many occasions.
“I’m just Serena. After losing the second set, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this could be it, so I better do my best.'” Pay attention.
“I’m very competitive. Honestly, I just look at it as a bonus. I have nothing to prove,” she said. No. Since 1998, really.Literally, I’ve had an ‘X’ on my back since ’99.”
The rust that built up when Williams missed nearly a year of action before returning to the tour at Wimbledon in late June appears to have worn off. He qualified for the US Open in 2022 with a 1-3 record, losing to an outside-ranked player.
Williams also has doubles to play. She and her sister Venus have won her 14 major championships as her team and will kick off the event Thursday night.
Kontaveit, 26, from Estonia, is a powerhouse hitter that has spread across women’s tennis over the past two decades after two brothers from Compton, California changed the game.
However, there is a big caveat to Contabate’s ranking status. She has played in 30 Grand Slam tournaments and in the quarterfinals she has never won a single match.
So, much like Kovinić 48 hours earlier, Williams’ opponent was introduced by her name only, and Kontaveit was sent off to a meager applause. Williams, by contrast, got the full treatment — a highlight video, a list of her many accolades and loud roars.
As the players met at the net for the coin toss and pre-game photo, Kontaveit smiled and looked over at Williams.
The match started with Kontaveit scoring the first five points and Williams scoring the next five. And they went back and forth. Kontaveit’s mistake was cheered, and even negligence was admonished by the crowd for making noise between serves by chair umpire Alison Hughes.
If anything, Kontaveit received more acknowledgment from players trying to beat her than anyone else because Williams responds to great shots with nods and racket claps.
Williams broke at the 5-4 edge when Kontaveit held a long backhand, prompting the screaming crowd to get to their feet. Williams’ husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian also jumped right in, waving her arm in her direction, a few rows ahead of where Venus and Tiger Woods were two seats away from her. .
But the opportunity to serve that set left Williams temporarily lost. Missed forehand. backhand long. A backhand went into her net as she got to her knee. A double fault made her 5-all.
Ultimately, it was a tie-break, and the chants of “Let’s go Serena!” It broke out with rhythmic clapping. Soon Williams sealed the set with a 101 mph service winner and a 91 mph ace. like in the old days.
To Kontaveit’s credit, she didn’t fold and didn’t prolong the disappointment of dropping the set.
Instead, she took a 3–0 lead over the next 15 minutes on a strength of ten winners and zero unforced errors.
Williams had the upper hand in the third, and there seemed to be an enthusiastic reaction to each point they scored. After a forehand volley winner gave Williams the game from victory, she raised both her arms and clenched her left fist.
One game, and five minutes later, the game was over, and her U.S. Open stint could continue.