‘I’m just Serena’: Williams’ US Open appearances give hope for unlikely grand slam victory ahead of third-round match

‘I’m just Serena’: Williams’ US Open appearances give hope for unlikely grand slam victory ahead of third-round match

‘I’m just Serena’: Williams’ US Open appearances give hope for unlikely grand slam victory ahead of third-round match

“I’m just Serena,” she said soberly, a quote that will undoubtedly be considered one of the most memorable in the sport.

That ability to find another gear and dig even deeper in the toughest moments laid the foundation for Williams’ continued success over more than 20 years on the Tour.

Given her form in the US Open – just one win since she returned to the track in June after a year out with injury – it was reasonable to assume that Williams’ opening game against Danka Kovinic would be little more than an emotional farewell to tennis for the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

But being “just Serena”, Williams produced by far her best tennis of the season to air Kovinic in full and extend her last dance in New York for at least a few more days.

Then came Kontaveit, the number 2 in the world and one of the toughest players on the Tour. The Est would offer a much tougher test than Kovinic and Williams undoubtedly went into their match as the significant underdog.

Serena Williams has stepped up her game at the US Open.

Surely, after two brilliant decades at the top, is this where Williams’ career would end? Of course not. After all, she’s “just Serena.”

In her three-set win over Kontaveit, Williams raised her tennis level to a place many thought she might no longer be able to reach. The accuracy and power in her much-feared serve seem to have returned, as does her speed on the pitch.

As she heads into her third round match against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, perceptions of what Williams could achieve have certainly changed. For the first time at this year’s US Open, she will go into a match favorite and with the weight of expectation she should win.

Not that this is anything new for one of the greatest athletes of all time.

Currently ranked 46 in the world, Tomljanovic reached a career high ranking of 38 this season and has achieved some notable success in 2022, including quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the recent Cincinnati Open.

Serena and Venus Williams eliminated in Czech duo's doubles game at US Open

The crowd will likely be a determining factor again on Friday, as it was in the second round when an overwhelmed Kontaveit struggled in a raucous atmosphere.

“It was difficult,” Kontaveit told reporters after her defeat. “It was something I’ve never experienced before. I don’t think it’s a personal attack on me or anything. I mean, it’s fair.

“It was so hard to deal with the crowd and all that,” she added, bursting into tears. “I think it was the hardest thing in this match.”

How Tomljanovic handles the atmosphere will be just as important as how she handles the 23-time grand slam champion staring her down from the other side of the field.

During her US Open run, Williams got the support of some of the biggest names in the sport, most notably from a pumped-up Tiger Woods, who attended Arthur Ashe for her second round win.

Former Men’s No. 1 Roger Federer, winner of 20 Grand Slam titles, was the last to speak to Williams with some encouraging words.

“For now, enjoy this moment,” he said. “Enjoy the US Open. Enjoy it with all that is to come in the coming weeks, even though I know it may be difficult for you.

“But I’m thinking of you, and you have all my respect. And I wish you all the best for your future.’

Whether Williams’ run ends on Friday or not, her exciting performances at the US Open have put a fitting end to an illustrious career.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.