Another chapter has been written in Serena Williams’ storied singles career, after she triumphed over second-seed Anett Kontaveit in a US Open thriller.
The crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium rose to its feet in wild scenes as Williams beat Kontaveit on Thursday (Australian time) to book a spot in the tournament’s third round.
Among them, was golfing great Tiger Woods, who delivered his trademark fist-pump at the remarkable result.
“I’m not in any rush here [to leave],” Williams said afterwards.
“I’m loving this crowd, and there’s still a little left in me.
Williams, less than a month from turning 41, is one of the most accomplished athletes in the history of tennis, with seven Wimbledon titles, seven Australian Open titles, six US Open wins, along with three at the French Open.
She also owns 14 Grand Slam doubles championships, all won alongside older sister Venus. But she had declared the US Open to her last grand slam tournament, as she looked to “evolve away” from top-level tennis.
On Thursday, in front of a record crowd of 30,000 at Flushing Meadows, Williams hit serves at up to 191km/h and stayed with Kontaveit during lengthy exchanges of big swings from the baselines. She also conjured up some of her trademark brilliance when it was needed most in a 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 victory.
“I’m loving this crowd and it’s really fantastic. There’s still a little left in me,” she said afterwards.
“I love rising to the challenge. I haven’t played many matches but i’ve been practicing really well. The last couple of matches here, it’s really come together.
“After I lost the second set I thought ‘Oh my goodness I want to give my best effort because this could be it’.
“I’m super competitive. Honestly I’m just looking at it as a bonus. I don’t have anything to prove or anything to win.
After pulling out a tight first set, then faltering a bit in the second, Williams headed to the locker room for a bit of a break before the third.
Something had to give, someone had to blink.
When they resumed, it was Williams who lifted her level and emerged as the better player.
Just as she’s done, so many times on so many stages, with so much at stake. And she left the door open to her playing future beyond the US Open.
“Yeah, I’ve been pretty vague about it [retirement], right?” Williams said in her post-match interview.
“I’m going to stay vague because you never know.”
She will play Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in a third-round blockbuster on Saturday (Australian time).
Tomljanovic, a two-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist fought back from a service break down deep in the deciding set to defeat Russian Evgeniya Rodina on Wednesday night.
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