Serena Williams’ singles career continues against world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit

“I’ve never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I thought of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use this word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people,” Williams said in the Vogue article published earlier this month.

“Perhaps evolution is the best word to describe what I intend to do. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis and towards other things that are important to me,” she said.

At her post-game press conference on Monday, Williams was asked if this was definitely her last tournament.

“Yeah, I was pretty vague there, wasn’t I?” she said with a smile. “I’ll be vague because you never know.”

Williams will also open doubles with her sister Venus Williams on Wednesday.

The opening-round win over Kovinić was the best Serena Williams has seen since her comeback from injury. She’s managed to win just one match since returning to the circuit in June and hasn’t been able to match the form that helped her win her last Grand Slam title in 2017.

While Williams was still far from that level in Monday’s win over Kovinić, it has certainly given her hope that her last dance at the US Open could be extended.

One of the greatest tennis players of all time, Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and won the US Open six times, most recently in 2014. Williams’ career, now 40 years old, concludes as her last match – in which ​​also The round that emerges is set to be played at the site of her first Grand Slam singles win, the 1999 US Open.

Then, just a teenager, Williams stormed onto the stage to stun world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the final, laying the first step on her path to two decades of dominance.

Harder test this time

However, at world No. 2 Kontaveit, Williams faces a much tougher test in the second round and will no doubt be the underdog.

After Kontaveit won her first tour-level title in 2017, her real breakthrough year came in 2021, when she won four WTA tournaments to climb the rankings.

An aggressive player with a varied game and a powerful forehand, Kontaveit broke into the world top 10 for the first time in November 2021 and has been a mainstay ever since.

She is ranked No. 2 – the highest rank in history for an Estonian – and at the age of 26 will certainly be looking to improve on her best performance at a Grand Slam, a quarter-final appearance at the 2020 Australian Open.

Kontaveit looked impressive in her US Open win in the opening round against Jaqueline Cristian of Romania, losing just three games to her.

“I’ve never played against them. I mean, this is the last chance,” she told reporters. “Better late than never.

“I’m really excited. I think the atmosphere will be great. I’m really looking forward to it.”

CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.

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