September 26, 2022

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Serena Williams said she is “staying vague” about her retirement from tennis after reaching the second round of the US Open on Monday.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams

“I have been pretty vague about it, right? I’m going to stay vague because you never know,” said the 40-year-old after beating Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, announced earlier this month that she was “evolving away” from tennis and that “the countdown” to her retirement after 27 years as a pro was on.

Prior to Monday, the former world number one had only won one match on tour this year, dropping her ranking to 605.

With that kind of form, she revealed she was on the verge of retiring and hinted that the US Open would be her last.

The guessing game about her concrete future plans, however, continued Monday, with mixed messages delivered on court and then in her post-match news conference.

“It was such a hard decision,” Williams told her on-court interviewer when asked about her original announcement revealed in a essay for Vogue magazine.

“I think when you are passionate about something it is always hard to walk away,” she said.

“I have been trying to decide what to do. I love this game.

She added: “I think now’s the time. I have a family and there’s other chapters in life. I call it evolution.”

“It’s like Serena 2.0. I will still be crazy, I’ll still be intense. I’ll still be around. But I look forward to waking up and not having to run onto a tennis court.”

Williams, who arrived on court in a diamond-encrusted black dress and jacket that sparkled under the lights, overcame a tense first game to win a hold of serve on Monday.

With a break for 2-0, the American star brought the crowd to their feet, chasing down a net cord to hit a winner.

The world number 80 has had a strong year at the Slams, reaching the third round of both the Australian and French Opens.

The 27-year-old responded with a break of her own and took a 3-2 lead.

Williams, on the other hand, buried the error count (six double faults in the opener), leveled, and then raced away with the next three games to take the first set.

In the second set, crunching drives from the back of the court provided another break for 3-2.

A love service game put the American up 5-3, and her final break of the night gave her the win.

She celebrated with a jig on the baseline and a broad smile, much to the delight of the crowd, which included tennis legend Martina Navratilova, former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, and former US President Bill Clinton.

The audience held up cards that said, “Serena, we love you.”

On Wednesday, Williams will face No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in the second round.

 

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