Thursday February 2nd, 2023 7:05AM

Serena Williams plays 2nd seed Kontaveit in US Open Round 2

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

NEW YORK (AP) — For as long as Serena Williams remains in the U.S. Open bracket, there is one overwhelming question that will hang over the proceedings and help define the moment: Could this be the last chance to watch her play?

The second opportunity for spectators to shower Williams with adoration — and for the 23-time major champion to enjoy that outpouring at what she has hinted, but purposely not definitively declared, will be her final tournament — began Wednesday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the largest arena in Grand Slam tennis.

The opponent this time: No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit, a 26-year-old from Estonia whose current ranking is much better than Williams’ is, but whose career resume lacks so much as one quarterfinal victory at any Slam event.

Williams won the first set in a tiebreaker by a 7-6 (4) score, closing it out with an ace after 1 hour, 3 minutes. Kontaveit quickly righted herself, racing to a 3-0 lead in the second and eventually grabbed it 6-2 to force a third.

About 1 1/2 hours before the scheduled start of the match, Williams went out to the practice courts for a 30-minute warmup session. She crossed paths with her sister, Venus, who was wrapping up some doubles work on that same court.

As Serena left after her hitting session, crowds cheered, and she paused to wave in their direction with her right hand as she checked her cellphone in her left.

Forget, for a minute, the relative merits of the two players’ skills and styles of play in the Williams vs. Kontaveit matchup. Forget the X's and O's. Because this trip to Flushing Meadows is, as always, about the points and the games and the sets and the scores for Williams, who won her first trophy here at age 17 in 1999 and is now 40.

As strident a competitor as tennis, or any sport, has seen, as rightly self-confident in her abilities as an athlete, Williams was not about to think of this whole exercise as merely a farewell tour.

She came to New York wanting to win, of course.

That’s what Williams showed in the first round on Monday, when she got past some early shakiness to beat 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 in front of a packed house that roared with approval from start to finish. The crowd of more than 23,000 in the stands and thousands of others watching on a video screen outside Ashe helped break the U.S. Open record for largest attendance at a night session.

“I was just thinking, like, ‘Is this for real? Really?’” Williams said about the roars that greeted her entrance for the match, so raucous she “could feel it in my chest.”

“At the same time I’m also thinking, I still have a match to play and I want to be able to play up to this reception, almost. It was so loud. I just was overwhelmed in a good way. But at the same time, it’s like you have to be focused, you have to be laser-focused,” she added. “That’s what I needed to do and that’s what I tried to do.”

Other players who watched from the seats, or on TV, were struck by the scene. One that seemed likely to be repeated on Wednesday.

“For sure, it was like the most popular first round of a Slam, ever. Yeah, it’s just amazing. It shows how much she has changed our sport and how much she has done. I’m pretty happy that she can experience something like that,” said No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek, a 21-year-old from Poland who owns two French Open titles. “I also feel that not every player would handle that kind of fuss around your first match of the tournament. She’s handling it pretty well, as usual. So that’s just confirmation of how great she is.”

On Wednesday, Williams wore the same glittery crystal-encrusted top and diamond-accented sneakers — replete with solid gold shoelace tags and the word “Queen” on the right one, “Mama” on the left — that she sported Monday. Long someone whose on-court fashion has stood out from the crowd, Williams helped design the Nike combo, which was inspired by what figure skaters wear to compete. Williams’ daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 on Thursday, wore her own version to sit in the stands Monday, along with beads that paid tribute to Mom’s hairstyle when she won her first major title 23 years ago.

Regardless of how Williams vs. Kontaveit went, there would be more in store for the American, who announced on Aug. 9 she was intent on “evolving” away from her playing days (she said she does not like using the word “retirement”).

Williams will team up with Venus in doubles on Thursday night against the Czech duo of Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova. It marks the reunion of a partnership that produced 14 Grand Slam doubles championships but last participated in that event anywhere in 2018.

Venus said it was Serena's idea to enter the doubles.

“More than anything,” said Venus, who is 42, “I just want to hold my side of the court up and be a good sister.”


More AP coverage of U.S. Open tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/us-open-tennis-championships and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Sports - Women's Tennis
© Copyright 2023 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Serena Williams plays 2nd seed Kontaveit in US Open Round 2
For as long as Serena Williams remains in the U.S. Open bracket, one overwhelming question hangs over the tournament: Could this be the last chance to watch her play
1:39PM ( 5 minutes ago )
Wimbledon runner-up Jabeur into 3rd round | US Open updates
Coming off her trip to the Wimbledon finals, Ons Jabeur is hoping to finally make a run at the U.S. Open
1:30PM ( 13 minutes ago )
UN inspectors head to Ukraine nuclear plant in war zone
United Nations inspectors are making their way toward Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
1:24PM ( 19 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Play begins on Day 3, with Serena at night | US Open updates
Singles and doubles play got Day 3 of the U.S. Open off to a busy start, though it was still eight hours before the match that's the center of attention
11:23AM ( 2 hours ago )
NY Yankees buy minority stake in AC Milan soccer club
The New York Yankees have purchased a minority stake in Italian soccer champion AC Milan, which announced the closing of its latest ownership change
9:56AM ( 3 hours ago )
Olympics attack victims' families agree on deal with Germany
The families of 11 Israeli athletes killed by Palestinian attackers at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich and the German government have reached a deal over the long-disputed amount of compensation
9:52AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Sports
Raducanu's US Open title defense ends with loss to Cornet
Emma Raducanu's defense of her surprising 2021 U.S. Open championship has ended with a first-round loss to Alizé Cornet
12:10AM ( 13 hours ago )
Venus Williams out of US Open; Raducanu loses in 1st Rd, too
Venus Williams has lost her first-round match at the U.S. Open
10:54PM ( 14 hours ago )
Nadal wins 1st match in NY since 2019 | US Open updates
Rafael Nadal's first U.S. Open match since 2019 has ended with a four-set victory over a player making his Grand Slam debut
10:41PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Tennis
Man charged in random Detroit shootings that killed 3
A 19-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder in a series of apparently random shootings over roughly two hours last weekend in Detroit that left three people dead and a fourth wounded
12:34PM ( 1 hour ago )
Calm before storms? Oddly quiet Atlantic despite forecasts
The Atlantic hurricane season has been oddly quiet
12:24PM ( 1 hour ago )
Michigan board considering abortion rights ballot initiative
Michigan's Board of Canvassers is set to decide whether a ballot initiative that seeks to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution should go before voters in November
12:21PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Russian politicians offer mixed view of Gorbachev's legacy
Russian officials and lawmakers are treading carefully while reacting to Mikhail Gorbachev’s death
10:46AM ( 2 hours ago )
Obstruction emerges as key focus in Trump documents probe
Obstruction of justice is emerging as a key focus in the Justice Department's investigation of classified government documents the FBI seized at former President Donald Trump's Florida estate
10:39AM ( 3 hours ago )
Fans of Princess Diana gather to mark her death 25 years ago
Fans of the late Princess Diana have placed tributes outside the gates of her Kensington Palace home, marking the 25th anniversary of her death in a Paris car accident
9:43AM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Serena will play again Wednesday night | US Open updates
Serena Williams will be back under the lights in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday
1:06PM ( 1 day ago )
No. 1 Swiatek, Pegula race into 2nd round | US Open updates
Top-ranked Iga Swiatek powered into the second round of the U.S. Open by beating Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-0
12:44PM ( 1 day ago )
Venus Williams, Nadal set for Day 2 action | US Open updates
A day after Serena Williams won her opening match at the U.S. Open, sister Venus will begin her tournament on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court
11:19AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - Women's Tennis
Wimbledon runner-up Jabeur into 3rd round | US Open updates
Coming off her trip to the Wimbledon finals, Ons Jabeur is hoping to finally make a run at the U.S. Open
1:30PM ( 14 minutes ago )
UN inspectors head to Ukraine nuclear plant in war zone
United Nations inspectors are making their way toward Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant
1:24PM ( 20 minutes ago )
For McCaw, Cole, AmeriCup may provide a road back to NBA
Patrick McCaw has three NBA championship rings from the start of his career with Golden State and Toronto
1:24PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Gorbachev's funeral, burial will reflect his varied legacy
The funeral and burial plans for Mikhail Gorbachev will sum up the crosscurrents of his legacy
1:18PM ( 26 minutes ago )
Judge nixes no-prison deal in 2018 limo crash that killed 20
A judge rejected a plea agreement that would have meant no prison time for the operator of a limousine company involved in a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York, drawing applause and tears from victims’ relatives who packed the court
1:12PM ( 31 minutes ago )