NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams is not ready to say goodbye just yet.
With Spike Lee on the court for the coin toss and Queen Latifah narrating a tribute video, there was far more hype than the usual first-day match. Williams emerged from the locker room wearing a glittery jacket and long skirt after being introduced as the greatest of all time.
In her first match at what is expected to be the last U.S. Open — and last tournament — of her remarkable playing career, Williams overcame a shaky start to overwhelm Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 on Monday night in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium with an atmosphere more akin to a festival than a farewell.
Early, Williams was not at her best. There were double-faults. Other missed strokes, missed opportunities. She went up 2-0, but then quickly trailed 3-2. Then, suddenly, Williams looked a lot more like someone with six championships at Flushing Meadows and 23 Grand Slam titles in all.
She rolled through the end of that opening set, capping it with a service winner she reacted to with clenched fists and her trademark cry of “Come on!” The more than 23,000 in attendance rose for a raucous standing ovation. There would be more, as Williams carried that terrific level into the second set against Kovinic, a 27-year-old from Montengero.
Williams will continue to play now, facing No. 2 seed Anett Kontveit of Estonia on Wednesday.