Serena Williams rolls back the years at US Open to beat No 2 seed Kontaveit | Serena Williams

Serena Williams is unlikely to advance to the third round of the US Open after a 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 victory over No. 2 seed Annette Kontaveit on Wednesday night, which she strongly hinted would be It is at least two days away from the event of the finale of her storied career.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion entered the tournament, winning just one match in 450 days at No. 605, winning a tight start in the tiebreaker before world No. 2 Kontaveit from Estonia scored immediately , opens the second inning, and then forces the decider twice.

Amid stifling pomp and a sold-out crowd cheering directly in Williams’ corner, Kontaveit once again maintained her mettle, beating the first five break points and nine she faced in the first two sets seven of the points. But after a break in a serve trade early in the third quarter, Williams broke again and stuck to the finish line, another heady spectacle on her six-time-win home show.

Two hours and 27 minutes later, Williams backhanded her opponent at match point, and to the roars of more than 23,000 spectators, she calmly offered the first to her players’ box.

“I’ve got a little bit left,” said Williams, who has won 23 of her past 25 games against top-two opponents, including eight in a row. “Wait and see.”

Williams advanced in the third round on Friday against 46th-ranked unseeded Australian Ajla Tomljanović in a suddenly open part of the women’s draw. Other seeds missing Friday included No. 14 Laila Anne Fernandez and No. 23 Barbara Kreichkova, whose departures ensured Williams couldn’t face another seed until at least the quarterfinals opponent.

“There’s no rush here,” she said. “I love this group. I still have a little bit in my heart. Let’s see. I’m a good player and that’s what I do best. I love challenges and I’m taking them.”

Williams, who turns 41 next month and has played little since last year’s Wimbledon due to a hamstring injury, revealed her plans to retire earlier this month. Her downsized form was laid bare in the U.S. Open qualifiers following the announcement — a 6-2, 6-4 loss to Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic in Toronto followed It was 6-4, 6-0 shock Cincinnati’s Emma Raducanu — one that made many observers pessimistic about her chances at Flushing Meadows.

But with her 27-year career clinching more Grand Slam titles than any other player in her Open era, Williams shattered expectations by raising the level of her putative farewell tournament . Unlike Monday’s tense start to Monday’s first-round win over Danka Kovinic, Williams’ serve was dialed in early Wednesday night, hitting 119 mph and hitting targets at will. She distanced herself from the big-hitting Kontaveit on muscular baseline volleys and moved the court with a thought of fluidity long gone.

“I don’t play a lot, but I’ve been practicing really well,” Williams said. “The last few games it came together. After I lost the second set, I thought, ‘I’ve got to do my best because that’s probably how it is’.

“I just see it as a reward. I have nothing to lose. I’ve had an X on my back since 1999. I’m really enjoying coming out and enjoying it.

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