Serena Williams has extended her US Open farewell with a gritty opening win on an entertaining night packed with hope and celebration in New York.
Williams, who is set to retire after the tournament, won 6-3 6-3 against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic.
The entire family jumped to their feet when Williams clinched a victory which will long live in the memory for those who saw it.
A near-capacity 25,000 crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium willed on their idol, who responded in typical determined style.
40 year old Williams, will next play Estonian second seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round on Wednesday.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion, who is one short of Australian Margaret Court’s all-time record, is also playing in the doubles alongside her older sister Venus, adding another exciting element to what she hopes will be a long goodbye this fortnight.
Williams has long been more than a tennis player and it was a sign of her status, as an American icon and one of the world’s most recognisable sport stars that she announced her retirement in an essay for glossy fashion magazine Vogue.
Although the former world number one did not use the word retirement itself, preferring to say she was “evolving away” from the sport, there is no mistaking her intention is to end her glittering career this fortnight at her home major.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas, Editing by Adeniyi Bakare