NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams now can say she has gained a U.S. Open match in her teenagers, her 20s, her 30s and — with her daughter on hand — her 40s.
She additionally has won a championship at Flushing Meadows in her teenagers, 20s and 30s. So what about in her 40s?
Effectively, it could be a tad an excessive amount of to count on that form of fit-for-a-script run over the subsequent two weeks in what she’s hinted will be her last tournament, even when her six U.S. Open trophies are tied for probably the most within the skilled period and a part of a profession rely of 23 at Grand Slam tournaments.
However as Williams, who turns 41 subsequent month. heads into the second spherical on Wednesday night time in opposition to the No. 2 seed within the girls’s bracket, Anett Kontaveit, it positive is enjoyable to consider what might be. And it positive must be enjoyable to look at what occurs subsequent.
“I completely love being on the market,” Williams stated following her 6-3, 6-3 victory over Eightieth-ranked Danka Kovinic on Monday night time. “The extra tournaments I play, I really feel just like the extra I can belong on the market. That’s a tricky feeling to have, and to go away realizing the extra you do it, the extra you possibly can shine.”
That’s considerably of a scary prospect for Kontaveit and, if Williams wins once more, any future opponents in a piece of the draw that doesn’t embody anybody with severe U.S. Open bona fides apart from 2021 runner-up Leylah Fernandez, who might be on the opposite aspect of the web within the fourth spherical.
“I used to be actually rooting for her to win (in opposition to Kovinic),” stated Kontaveit, a 26-year-old from Estonia who has 13 first-round exits in 29 earlier Grand Slam appearances and made it solely so far as the quarterfinals as soon as. “I’ve by no means performed in opposition to her. I imply, that is the final likelihood. Higher late than by no means.”
Watch out what you would like for.
As a result of whereas Williams is not the player she once was, she acquired previous a patchy begin Monday to seek out her rhythm within the second set. That overpowering serve was there. So, too, had been the groundstrokes that may be point-enders. And, maybe most evident of all, that indomitable spirit, buoyed by a sellout crowd keen her to win.
“I simply keep in mind her all the time preventing, her all the time fist-pumping, all the time being so intense on the courtroom, which is I feel nice,” stated Kontaveit, simply the form of power-reliant participant in opposition to whom Williams has all the time tended to fare effectively. “She’s all the time preventing. She’s all the time giving 100%.”
Williams, who was 1-3 this season earlier than Monday, was requested what questions her efficiency answered for her as she appears to be like forward within the match.
“I don’t suppose I had any questions,” got here her reply.
One other win will solely enhance the eye, and ardor, of tennis followers and switch up the quantity on discuss whether or not this might be one other turn-back-the-clock U.S. Open story alongside the traces of Jimmy Connors, who was 39 when he reached the 1991 semifinals, or Pete Sampras, who was 31 when he beat Andre Agassi for the 2002 championship in what turned out to be his final match.
“Effectively, we hope for that, and possibly it’ll occur. She hasn’t performed many matches, however when you get one underneath your belt, the subsequent day at follow usually feels slightly bit higher. I’m hoping that was the case for her,” stated John Isner, a 2018 Wimbledon semifinalist and a first-round winner Tuesday at age 37. “Her opponent has to go up in opposition to her — and all of New York Metropolis.”
No matter what occurs in singles, Williams additionally has doubles to stay up for, along with her sister, Venus; they’ve gained 14 Grand Slam titles as a staff. Serena referred to as Venus her “rock,” and an vital a part of the decision-making course of that led to the announcement three weeks in the past that Serena was getting ready to go away her taking part in days behind.
“She’s had a while to course of it, and he or she’s doing it the best way she desires to,” Venus said after losing her first-round singles match Tuesday. “That’s what issues most, is to do issues on her personal phrases.”
That’s lengthy been the case for the youthful Williams, on the courtroom and off.
As for whether or not she’ll stay related to the game?
“I don’t see myself not part of tennis. I don’t know the way I’m going to be part of tennis as of proper now. I simply don’t know the way,” Williams stated. “However I simply really feel like we’ve come too far collectively to simply not have something to do with it.”
After Monday’s match, the U.S. Tennis Affiliation held an on-court ceremony to honor Williams, along with her husband; mom; sister, Isha; and daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 this week, coming down from their seats within the stands to affix her.
It included a video tribute from Oprah Winfrey that closed along with her saying: “Simply know, no matter you do subsequent, we’ll be watching. With love, all of us.”
What’s subsequent, for now, is an encore efficiency Wednesday night time — again with a racket in hand, again in Ashe, again underneath the lights, again in prime time.
And no matter Williams decides to do after tennis should wait.
Howard Fendrich has been the AP’s tennis author since 2002. Write to him at [email protected] or comply with him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/HowardFendrich
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