Serena Williams begins US Open run with victory over Danka Kovinic at Arthur Ashe Stadium

NEW YORK — Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams defeated Eightieth-ranked Danka Kovinic at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday evening, 6-3, 6-3, opening what might be her final match with authority.

Arriving to the pre-match apply courtroom amid cheers from bystanders at 6:20 p.m., Williams gave followers a gap evening to recollect, defeating an opponent who got here into the match, saying she was “honored” to play in such an vital occasion.

“It is a privilege to share the courtroom with Serena,” Kovinic mentioned in an interview at Flushing Meadows on Friday. “I simply actually hope that I can present my good sport. Possibly my greatest sport.”

A decided Williams, who did not wave to the group throughout her introductory stroll out onto the courtroom, had solely performed 4 matches this yr previous to the US Open, and had gained just one. However with celebrities and notables all through the stadium, Williams delivered a efficiency match for this momentous summer time evening in New York.

Spike Lee was on the courtroom for the coin toss, after which took a seat within the stands. Elsewhere within the crowd was former President Invoice Clinton, sitting courtside with Dr. Ruth Westheimer. Gladys Knight, Queen Latifah, Mike Tyson, Martina Navratilova and Lindsey Vonn have been additionally available.

Earlier this month, in writing a first-person essay for Vogue Journal, Williams introduced her tennis profession was winding down, citing her need to develop her household, and suggesting the US Open might be her last match.

She admitted she had combined emotions about her subsequent chapter and did not even like utilizing the phrase “retirement,” as a substitute choosing “evolution.”

“I have been reluctant to confess to myself or anybody else that I’ve to maneuver on from enjoying tennis,” Williams wrote. “Alexis (Ohanian), my husband, and I’ve hardly talked about it; it is like a taboo matter. I can not even have this dialog with my mother and pa. It is prefer it’s not actual till you say it out loud.

“It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I begin to cry. The one particular person I’ve actually gone there with is my therapist! One factor I am not going to do is sugarcoat this. I do know that lots of people are enthusiastic about and stay up for retiring, and I actually want I felt that approach.”

Kovinic watched and browse from afar, on the time, not figuring out she would draw Williams in New York. As soon as she discovered, she ready for the eye.

“Serena is an icon. If I wasn’t enjoying her on Monday, I would not have all this consideration. I am conscious of that,” Kovinic mentioned final week. “So it will be a really good expertise and, on the identical second, possibly just a little bit tense. After all I’ll really feel stress. However I’ll attempt to flip it into one thing constructive.”

So did Williams.

The Related Press contributed to this report.