Serena Williams stunned second seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 to reach the third round of the US Open

Serena Williams, of the United States, reacts after beating Anett Kontaveit, of Estonia, in the second round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Serena Williams’ farewell tour took on a different look when she stunned second seed Anett Kontaveit to reach the third round of the US Open.

It was a brilliant performance from the diamond-clad veteran, who produced her best tennis since reaching the semi-finals of the Australian Open last January to win 7-6 (7-4) 2- 6 6-2.

The end of the dream, a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title in her final tournament, is still a long way off, but this performance showed it could be a possibility.

Tiger Woods was among the famous faces cheering on Williams, who revealed in the Vogue essay announcing her “evolution” away from tennis that the golf great had given her advice on whether she should make a final crack.

It now looks like the right move, and Williams, who will face Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, clearly believes she has more to offer.

“There’s no rush here,” he said. “I love this crowd. There’s still a little bit left in me. We’ll see. I’m a good player, that’s what I do best. I love a challenge and I’m up to the challenge.

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Williams rallied to beat Estonia’s Kontaveit 7-6, 2-6, 6-2 in Flushing Meadows, New York

“I haven’t played a lot of matches, but I’ve been practicing really well. The last two matches have come together. After losing the second set I thought, ‘I have to give my best because this could be it.’

“I just see it as an advantage. I have nothing to lose. I’ve had an X on my back since 1999. I really like to go out and enjoy it.”

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Action from Day 3 at the US Open where Andy Murray advanced to the third round

There wasn’t the same electricity as there was on Monday night and a few more empty seats as the tournament once again staged a montage declaring Williams the greatest of all time before taking the court.

Like Danka Kovinic before her, Kontaveit let herself get busy on court, the second seed but largely the support on tennis’ biggest stage.

The support from the stands was, of course, almost entirely for Williams. The crowd may have come more hopeful than expected, but it quickly became clear that the 40-year-old was here to play.

Williams had moved well against Kovinic and it was the same here as her strokes showed conviction and her serve, the best in the history of the women’s game, was firing.

Serena Williams retires from the chart
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Williams will retire from the sport after this year’s US Open

Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted when Williams broke serve to take a 5-4 lead, and although she couldn’t serve out the set, she held her nerve in the tie-break.

The celebration was understated because the job was only half done, and Kontaveit, who despite her ranking has struggled since contracting Covid-19 earlier this year, responded well at the start of the second set, increasing his aggression and leveling up. the match.

This made the early stages of the decider crucial and, to the delight of the crowd, it was Williams who stepped up again, producing her best tennis of the match to take a 4-1 lead.

And, in a worrying sign for the rest of the field, Williams was cool in view of the victory, celebrating in a low-key manner that suggests he feels he still has some way to go.

Elsewhere, third seed Maria Sakkari, beaten by Emma Raducanu in the semi-finals 12 months ago, is also out, losing 3-6 7-5 7-5 to young Chinese left-hander Wang Xiyu.

American stars Madison Keys and Coco Gauff set up a delightful third-round tie, while fifth seed Ons Jabeur cruised to a 7-5, 6-2 win over Elizabeth Mandlik, daughter of the four-time Grand Slam singles champion Hana Mandlikova.


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