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HomeNewsSerena Williams beats Anett Kontaveit in U.S. Open second round

Serena Williams beats Anett Kontaveit in U.S. Open second round


NEW YORK — The black skirt Serena Williams selected to put on for the shut of her profession was designed to have six layers, one for every of her U.S. Open titles. However that a lot of even probably the most gossamer material can really feel heavy within the warmth of battle, so forward of the event Williams scrapped 4 of the layers and went on her approach.

Wednesday evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium felt a bit like Williams’s altered skirt.

All of the accoutrements had been nonetheless there, from Queen Latifah thanking Williams in a pretaped introductory video to the celebrities sprinkled all through the group (Tiger Woods, the actress Zendaya), however her second-round match in opposition to Anett Kontaveit felt extra workmanlike. Williams’s daughter Olympia was not within the stands for this match to observe and blow kisses on the crowd. This time, Williams eschewed the cape.

Highlights from Serena Williams’s second-round U.S. open win over Anett Kontaveit

The outcome was a 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-2 victory after a 2-hour, 27-minute grinding match that proved Williams’s bodily talents stay intact at age 40. It additionally confirmed that she remembers tips on how to entry a deep reservoir of struggle.

Kontaveit, an Estonian ranked No. 2 on the planet, challenged Williams to earn the win with courageous returning and lightning tempo. Her exact pictures examined Williams’s endurance, together with one within the third set that simply dusted the road so barely that the file crowd of practically 30,000 started to boo.

Williams wagged a finger to silence her supporters — nobody was getting labored up by shut calls right here.

After getting into the event with simply 4 matches previously 14 months and insecurity in her recreation, the query is now not whether or not Williams’s physique can carry out as much as Grand Slam event tennis. She blasted 11 aces to 6 pesky double faults, wanting lithe and powerful in her motion Wednesday.

“Are you stunning your self together with your stage in the intervening time?” she was requested on court docket after the match.

“What?” Williams responded, in disbelief.

The query now could be how far Williams can go.

She faces No. 46 Ajla Tomljanovic within the third spherical Friday, and earlier than then will slip extra observe below her belt by the use of a doubles match along with her sister Venus on Thursday night. It’s the first opening-round doubles match ever scheduled to open an evening session on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Within the singles event, Williams mentioned she feels in no hurry to go away now that she’s made herself comfy.

“It’s no rush right here,” she mentioned. “There’s nonetheless a bit left in me. We’ll see.”

Throngs of followers roaring their assist will comply with Williams for so long as she performs on. Report crowds have turned out for each of Williams’s matches this week, with 29,959 flocking to the event’s major present court docket Wednesday.

The chair umpire’s first plead to the group to calm down got here simply two minutes after the match’s begin.

They continued to bellow for the 23-time Grand Slam champion throughout factors all through the evening, however the gamers settled into the ambiance, relegating it principally to the background, and carried on.

The nerves that tripped Williams into uncharacteristic double faults Monday appeared to have dissipated. Williams moved properly at first, pushing Kontaveit to hit one additional ball in rallies — even when Williams didn’t win them — and orchestrating factors from begin to end.

Even then, rust was nonetheless evident early on. After securing her first break level in six tries to take a 5-4 lead, she handed Kontaveit the break again with a double fault.

However her serve got here by when she wanted it most: she clinched the primary set tiebreaker with an ace.

Williams’s stage dipped instantly within the second set as Kontaveit zipped out to a 3-0 lead.

Williams lastly gained a recreation. However serving at 1-3, 40-0, Kontaveit pushed her to deuce, finally sealing the sport and squashing her opponent’s hope of a comeback with a pointy return that simply clipped the sideline. Williams then despatched a backhand into the web on the subsequent level and, in a blink, Kontaveit held a 5-1 edge.

The Estonian closed the second set on an ace to even the match. Williams left the court docket to regroup and emerged refreshed, incomes a 2-0 lead that bloomed right into a 4-1 lead with out Williams elevating her stage a lot in any respect — such was the benefit her expertise and a supportive crowd offered.

However Williams did want her finest to shut. The largest second of the evening got here at set level with Williams serving to take a 5-2 lead. Kontaveit had her on the run however she dropped a lob, her second of the rally, on the baseline then closed in for a winner. AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” rang out at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Williams gained the ultimate recreation with out giving up a degree, feeling lighter, it appeared, with every passing second.

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