Even in her farewell tournament, Serena Williams showed the tennis world that she is still very much a force to be reckoned with, taking the first set against World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in a thrilling tiebreaker.
Despite getting her serve broken while serving for the set, the 23-time Grand Slam champion held her nerves to seal the set, much to the delight of fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium. One of the fans in attendance was golf superstar Tiger Woods, who had been watching the proceedings from Williams' player box.
As the rest of her entourage went wild after the former World No. 1 took the set, Woods joined them in celebration, pumping his fist ecstatically to show his appreciation for his compatriot and long-time friend.
The 40-year-old went on to lose the second set 2-6 and is currently battling it out with Kontaveit in the decider. The winner of the clash will take on either Ajla Tomljanovic or Evgeniya Rodina in the third round.
Serena Williams and Venus Williams kick off their doubles campaign tomorrow at Arthur Ashe Stadium
Irrespective of her result today, Serena Williams will return to Arthur Ashe Stadium tomorrow, partnering with her sister Venus Williams in the doubles category. The duo have been allotted the enviable night session slot, where they take on the all-Czech pairing of Linda Noskova and Lucie Hradecka.
The elder Williams also played singles at the 2022 US Open but lost out to Alison Van Uytvanck in straight sets in her opener. While Serena Williams is a six-time singles winner at Flushing Meadows and Venus Williams is a two-time singles champion, the sisters have won the doubles event twice to date -- in 1999 and 2009.
The Williams sisters also have an impeccable record in Grand Slam finals, winning all 14 of the summit clashes they have contested so far. Regarding their participation this year, Venus Williams confirmed that it was her younger sister's idea, perhaps influenced by the fact that this was her farewell tournament.
Having not played together for more than half a decade, the 42-year-old hoped they could have only one last hurrah in New York before they both hung up their racquets.
"Yeah, [playing in the doubles] was Serena's idea. She's the boss, so do whatever she tells me to do," Venus Williams said. "I don't think we have played since 2016, but might be getting that wrong. We have had some great wins. It would be nice to add some more."