Serena Williams prepares her farewell at the start of the US Open
Serena Williams will take center stage as the US Open kicks off on Monday with the 23-time Grand Slam winner preparing to bid farewell to tennis. After announcing earlier this month that the countdown to his retirement had begun, Williams will take to the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows for what could be his final appearance at a Grand Slam singles tournament.
The 40-year-old sporting and cultural icon won the first of his Grand Slam titles at the same venue in 1999, lifting the trophy aged 17.
In Monday’s sold-out night session, which begins at 7:00 p.m. (2300 GMT), Williams will face world No. 80 Montenegro Danka Kovinic.
Whether Williams is able to extend his US Open campaign beyond this game remains to be seen.
In her final outing at the Cincinnati Masters earlier this month, Williams was beaten 6-4, 6-0 by Britain’s Emma Raducanu – who herself was knocked out of the Australian Open by Kovinic in January.
Win or lose on Monday, Williams won’t leave the US Open stage immediately.
On Saturday, organizers confirmed that she and her older sister Venus Williams had received a wild card for the women’s doubles tournament, which begins on Wednesday.
It’s the first time the Williams sisters have played doubles since 2018, bringing together a partnership that has resulted in 14 Grand Slam titles and three Olympic gold medals.
Whenever Serena Williams leaves the stage, she will do so after a career that has left a lasting legacy to her sport.
“I just think she’s the greatest thing that will ever exist in sport,” Japan’s Naomi Osaka said on Saturday.
“It’s really an honor to see her play. She gives us a chance to watch her more.”
– Nadal’s physical concern –
Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Polish world number one Iga Swiatek will be looking to claim her second Grand Slam title of 2022.
The French Open champion won six consecutive tournaments earlier this season but struggled to regain that dominance during the North American hard-court swing, making early exits at the Cincinnati Masters and the Open at Canada.
Swiatek kicks off her US Open campaign on Tuesday against Italian Jasmine Paolini.
In the men’s draw, Spanish great Rafael Nadal is aiming for a fifth US Open crown and a 23rd Grand Slam title in a draw that misses Novak Djokovic.
Djokovic has been barred from entering the United States due to his refusal to take a Covid-19 vaccine, which puts him at odds with US government travel restrictions for foreign visitors.
With Djokovic out of sight, Nadal’s biggest opponent over the next fortnight may well be his own injury-prone body.
The Spaniard has had to sit out the US Open four times in his career and there are once again fresh doubts over his physical ability to survive a grueling two weeks at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal has played only once since an abdominal injury forced him to withdraw from his Wimbledon semi-final with Nick Kyrgios – a first loss to Borna Coric in Cincinnati.
Nadal admitted on Friday that he protected his injury in Cincinnati but was able to train intensely in preparation for the US Open.
“I take things very easy in Cincinnati too, in practices. The game, I do my best without putting all the effort there on serve,” Nadal said.
“I hope to be ready for action. That’s all I can say.”
Nadal kicks off his US Open campaign on Tuesday against Australian Rinky Hijikata.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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