Serena Williams progresses at US Open to delight of adoring crowd
New York, New York - Serena Williams showed an adoring US Open crowd that she is not finished just yet with victory over Danka Kovinic to extend her farewell tour.
But Williams is first and foremost a tremendous competitor, and she ensured at least one more night under the lights with a 6-3 6-3 triumph.
Broadway may be several miles away from the rather down-at-heel borough of Queens where Flushing Meadows sits, but there was only one show in town in New York on Monday night.
The crowd had come to worship their queen, and the noise grew louder and louder as a montage voiced by Queen Latifah played of Williams' six singles titles at Flushing Meadows.
Then out came the woman herself, dressed, as only she could be, in
self-designed attire and shoes featuring diamonds, crystals, and gold.
The diamonds in her hair twinkled in the lights. Among her family and friends sitting court-side was four-year-old daughter Olympia, wearing a matching outfit and beads in her hair like the ones her mother sported for her maiden triumph 23 years ago.
Serena Williams gives great showing during first-round match
It was all a little unfair on Kovinic, who had walked onto court to polite applause some minutes earlier, busying herself with her pre-match routines as the noise swept around her.
Director Spike Lee, a regular attendee at the tournament, performed the coin toss before both players tried to compose themselves and focus on what was demonstrably no ordinary tennis match.
Williams had won just one singles match since the French Open last spring, but Kovinic has not been in good form either, losing her previous five matches.
Nerves were very evident from both, particularly in the form of early double faults, but, with a wall of noise greeting every Williams winner, she began to give the crowd what they wanted.
She was certainly moving better than she had in defeat by Emma Raducanu in Cincinnati earlier this month, and her serve and ground strokes increased in penetration as the match wore on.
The second set, while not vintage Williams, was an indication that this valedictory lap may yet have some way to go as she set up a clash with second seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday.
Cover photo: REUTERS