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United States open | Serena didn’t say her last word

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(New York) Arthur Ashe Stadium had probably never been this full, this loud and this buzzing for a first round game at the US Open.

Updated at 12:25

Richard Hetu

Richard Hetu
special cooperation

Celebrities from all walks of life and the most ardent tennis fans gathered there for what could have been the last singles match on the New York court of a player many of them consider the greatest of all time.

They were fully aware that this alleged status did not protect Serena Williams from a quick exit from the tournament. Despite 23 Grand Slam titles, including 6 in New York, the 40-year-old American had only won one in four games of her since her return to competition after a 14-month hiatus.

But Serena Williams was not ready to retire.

“Oh! Oh! Oh! Said Gayle King, CBS morning show host at the start of a ceremony following Williams’ 6-3 win over Montenegrin Danka Kovinić, 80.And player in the world.

“I think Serena said, ‘Not today.’ ”

Indeed.

She appeared on the court wearing a crystal-encrusted bodice that evoked the New York night sky and wearing diamond-studded trainers.

The welcome given to her by the crowd moved her deeply.

“The reception was truly astounding,” he said at a press conference. “It was strong and I could feel it in my chest. It was a very good feeling. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget. ”

Among that crowd were celebrities as sparkling as Williams’ uniform. Former President Bill Clinton was in attendance, as were singer Gladys Knight, director Spike Lee, boxer Mike Tyson, skier Lindsey Vonn, actor Matt Damon and designer Vera Wang, among others.


PHOTO MIKE SEGAR, REUTERS

Bill Clinton (center)

Their voices mingled with those of lesser-known and unknown fans to create a deafening noise when, in the second game of the match, Williams scored a service break against a visibly nervous opponent.

One wonders if the Arthur-Ashe stadium had ever recorded more decibels.

“The crowd was crazy,” Williams said during the ceremony, which was intended to celebrate a career that has transcended tennis, as if the organizers of the US Open were expecting his singles presence in New York.

“Everything is a bonus”

Nothing will happen. Williams, who announced their intention to retire by the end of the season three weeks ago, will face Estonian second-seeded US Open Anett Kontaveit in the second round. He will be a more formidable rival than Kovinić.

How do you see this match that will obviously bring you closer to your last appearance in New York as a player?

“At this point, honestly, everything is a bonus for me,” he replied to reporters. “I think every opponent is very difficult. I saw it during the summer. The next game will be even more difficult. ”

I don’t even think about it. I’m just thinking about this moment. I think it’s good for me to live in the present moment.

Serena Williams

On the pitch, this moment was intense on Monday evening, but not always exalted. Williams looked rusty at the start of the first set, committing double faults and directing shots on the net that looked easy.

But the youngest of the Williams sisters raised the level of play as the match progressed, managing to dictate the exchanges in the second set and land some aces that reminded her of her best days.

The audience not only applauded his good shots, but also his opponent’s bad shots. In between exchanges, some onlookers with well-developed vocal cords even sent messages of affection to Williams.

“I love you Serena,” one exclaimed.

Another immediately added: “I love you more. ”

To fasten the buckle

Like Williams, Kovinić won’t soon forget the New York crowd.

“I couldn’t hear the sound of the ball when I hit it, the crowd was so loud,” said the 27-year-old Montenegrin. When I realized what was happening, I knew the match was going to be difficult. ”

Playing against Serena was a once in a lifetime opportunity, especially in a night game on Arthur-Ashe.

Danka Kovinic

Even if she hadn’t survived Kontaveit, Williams would not have left New York immediately. She is listed as a twin of her with her sister of her Venus.

For Williams, it will also be a way to close the circle after years of mutual support.

“I feel it was really important for her to be a part of this,” said Serena. It is my rock. I’m super excited to play with her and do it again. Has been a long time. ”

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