“After I lost the second set, I was like, ‘Oh, this could be the end, so I have to do my best,'” Williams said in an on-court post-match interview with ESPN.
Williams looked better than he did earlier this year when he was trying to shake off the rust of a lengthy layoff.
However, at Contabate, Williams faced a tougher test, and while in theory he was definitely the underdog, that was not the case with a packed out Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The noisy but well-behaved crowd cheered her on in every way.
“I love challenges,” she said in an interview Wednesday, referring to long-term layoffs.
Williams will next face Australia’s Ajra Tomljanovic in the third round. Playing at the same time as Williams on Wednesday, Tomlyanović beat Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina 1-6, 6-2, 7-5.
And Williams isn’t just playing singles. She will start double-spraying with her sister Venus Williams on Thursday night.
“I need more matches,” she told ESPN. In a few games, it didn’t work for me, and this one doesn’t work for me.”
Things have changed since she started playing at the British Open, she said.
“I never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. We want to be sensitive about what this means to be very specific and important to our community of people,” Williams said in a Vogue article published earlier this month.
“Probably the best word to describe what I’m trying to do is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis and towards other things that are important to me. I’m in
At Monday’s post-match press conference, Williams was asked if this was definitely his last tournament.
“Yeah, I was pretty vague about that, wasn’t I?” she said with a smile. “You never know, so I remain vague.”
The opening round win over Kovinic was Williams’ best since returning from injury. She has only won one match since her return to the circuit in June and has not come close to the form that helped her win her final Grand Slam title in 2017.
But Kontaveit, who said he was thrilled to face Williams, ran into a player who showed no signs of retiring early.
“I think she played really well,” said the Estonian at the post-match press conference. “I mean, I thought I didn’t have a bad game at all.”
After the players split the first two sets, Williams stepped up play for the decider, Kontaveit said.
“She really made the switch from there,” she said. I was playing Larry better.I felt like she did everything a little bit better in the third set.” “
The enthusiastic Williams-supporting crowd was also a challenge, Kontveidt added.
“I mean, I don’t think they were rooting for me like they were. They just wanted Serena to win badly,” said the Estonian. “I mean, I don’t think it’s a personal attack on me. I mean, it’s fair. I mean, she deserves this.”
Williams burst onto the scene in 1999 when he won his first US Open.
One of the greatest tennis players of all time, Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, most recently winning the US Open six times in 2014. Williams, now 40, will come full circle in her final game. That round is set to take place at her 1999 US Open where she won her first Grand Slam singles.
Then, still a teenager, Williams overpowered world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the final, putting her first step on the road to 20 years of dominance.
After Kontavate won her first Tour-level title in 2017, her true breakout year came in 2021.
An aggressive player with a varied game and a powerful forehand, Kontavate first entered the world top 10 in November 2021 and has been a mainstay ever since.
She had a career-high second-place finish (the highest ever for an Estonian) and, at 26, was trying to beat her best Grand Slam finish in the quarterfinals of the 2020 Australian Open. .
Kontaveit impressively dropped just three games against Romania’s Jacqueline Cristian in the opening round of the US Open. After the win, he said he was “rooting” for Williams in the first round.
CNN’s Steve Almasy contributed to this report.