NEW YORK (AP) – Serena Williams Call it “evolution” or “retirement” Or whatever she wants.Can she be shy about this US Open Will actually mark the end of her game day. Those 23 Grand Slam titles earned that right.
If she keeps playing like this, who knows how long this goodbye will last?
Whatever happens after her Flushing Meadows trip, after Wednesday night, it’s important to know: Williams, 40, is still around, she’s still got great tennis, she’s still winning— — and, like the adoring crowd, whose roars filled Arthur Ashe Stadium again — she was ready for more.
Williams Eliminated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the second round of the U.S. Open to ensure she played at least one more match in what she hinted would be the last match a singles match Her illustrious career.
“I’ve got a little left,” Williams said with a laugh in an on-court interview, before admitting in a post-match press conference: “These moments are obviously fleeting.”
After beating 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic in two sets on Sunday, she won her 23rd of the past 25 matches against Kang on Wednesday. No. 1 or No. 2 in the game for Kontaveit, the six-time Flushing Meadows winner, will play in the fourth round on Friday.
Her opponent will be 29-year-old Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in No. 46. They’ve never met, but Tomlyanovic, who says she considers herself a Williams fan, believes she knows what to expect from Americans — and those in their seats.
“So far, I’ve played two games with her on Court 7 at the same time, and I can hear the crowd. I’m like, ‘Court 7 isn’t that close. I’ve been thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, this makes I’m annoyed, I didn’t even play her,'” Tomljanovic said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
If Williams can get past Tomjanovic, her potential path could be simpler: 2021 US Open runner-up Layla Fernandez and 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejkova both lose.
Williams teeed up to 119 mph on Wednesday, was with Contavette during a long baseline big swing swap with Contaveit and evoked some of her signature moments when it was needed most of brilliance.
After pulling out a tense first set and then faltering in the second, Williams headed to the locker room for a bathroom break before the third set.
Something has to give and someone has to wink.
When they recovered, it was Williams who raised her level and became a better player.
As she has done many times, in many stages, there are many risks.
“I’m just Serena. After I lost the second set, I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, I better try my best, because that’s probably how it is,'” Williams said, certainly responding The thoughts of everyone who cares.
“I’ve never played like this — since ’98, really,” she said. “Literally, I’ve had an ‘X’ on my back since ’99,” said that year, when she won her first major title at the 17-year-old U.S. Open.
Any rust built up when Williams missed about a year before returning to the tour in late June appears to be gone. She is 1-3 in the U.S. Open in 2022.
“It’s kind of coming together now,” Williams said. “I mean, it has to come together today.”
Williams also has a doubles game. She and her sister Venus have won 14 majors as a team and will start the event on Thursday night.
Kontaveit, 26, from Estonia, is a formidable hitter in her own right, one that has spread in women’s tennis over the past 20 years after a pair of siblings in Compton, Calif., changed the rules.
But Kontaveit’s ranking comes with a caveat: In her 30 career matches, she has never won a quarterfinal at any major.
So maybe that’s why, like Kovinic 48 hours ago, Williams’ opponent was only introduced by her name, and Kontaveit walked out to applause. Williams, by contrast, was treated to the fullest: Highlight videos, her many honors lists and loud greetings from people who were part of the U.S. Open’s largest nighttime audience of 29,959, surpassing Monday’s record set.
“That was her moment,” said Kontaveit, who began crying during the Estonian portion of the news conference and interrupted it. “Of course, it’s all about her.”
A competitor as fierce as tennis or any sport has seen, and as confident in her abilities as any athlete is, Williams doesn’t intend to see the entire practice as a celebration of her career.
Of course she came to New York to win.
Wearing the same sparkling crystal-encrusted top and diamond-encrusted sneakers as she sported Monday – replete with solid gold lace-up labels and the words “Queen” on the right, “Mom” on the left – Williams is ready for prime time .
The game started with Kontaveit’s first five points and Williams’ five. They kept going, going back and forth. Contaveit’s miss was cheered — even a miss, with chair umpire Alison Hughes warning the crowd about making noise between serves.
Early in the third set, Kontaveit’s forehand hit the outermost edge of the touchline. A video on the stadium screen showed how close it was, confirming that the ball had indeed fallen into the goal. This caused boos from the stands. Williams raised her arm and shook her fingers, telling her supporters not to make a fuss.
If anything, Kontaveit gets more recognition than anyone else from the players who try to beat her, as Williams responds to fine shots with a nod or a pat.
“They’re not against me. They just want Serena to win,” Contaveit said, calling her treatment “fair” even though it was “something I’ve never experienced before.”
Williams scored 5-4 and Kontaveit backhanded a long distance, spurring the shouting crowd to their feet – Williams’ husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohani Ann jumped in too, waving her arms in her direction, in front of Venus and Tiger Woods Separate two seats.
In the end, they entered the tiebreaker, and at 3-3, the chants of “Let’s go, Serena!” erupted, accompanied by rhythmic applause. Soon, Williams won the service at 101 mph and clinched that set at 91 mph.
To her credit, she went 3-0 in the second quarter with 10 winners and 0 unforced errors.
In the third inning, she raised her arms and clenched her left fist after a swinging forehand volley to the winner put Williams one inning.
One game, and five minutes later, it’s over — and she can stay at the U.S. Open.
Asked if she was a title contender, Williams replied: “I can’t think that far. I’m having a good time, I’m enjoying it.”
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