Serena Williams Begins US Open Quest with Straight Sets Win
(September 1, 2020) Serena Williams overcame 2-0 deficits in both sets to stop American countrywoman Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of the US open on Tuesday night. This was the 23-time major champion’s first straight sets win since the tour resumed last month.
“I was really happy with how I fought for every point,” Serena said in her on-court interview. I just needed to get my Serena-focus back.”
On winning the match in two sets: “It’s been years. It’s been like the 90’s since I won a match in straight sets.”
Williams hit 13 aces in the match. Her win is the 102 victory at the US Open breaking the record of Chris Evert which was 101. She’s also 20- in first round matches at Flushing Meadows.
Williams was asked about the proposed players association led by Novak Djokovic. She replied: “I would be really interested to learn more about what everything is about because I feel like I can’t really have an opinion unless I understand more deeply. I’m obviously always Team Djokovic, but at the same time I’ve been on the WTA Tour for 30 years and I know a lot of stuff that’s happening there. I would like to — yeah, I can’t really comment on that.
“I do feel he has some very strong opinions that are often true. Yeah, I would just have to wait.”
Williams talked about her former mixed doubles partner Andy Murray and his epic win, a match which was played ahead of hers on Ashe stadium.
“Usually when you’re waiting for a match, someone is down two sets, you root for the person that’s ahead so you can get on the court and get off.
“I was rooting for Andy the whole time. I really wanted him to win. Gosh, when he was down in the third set, I was like, All right. I was just rooting for him so hard.
“I saw him give the racquet to his trainer. There’s Andy, he plans on playing five sets here (laughter). I was really happy for him.
“I love his grit. I’ve always loved that, way before we played doubles. I always said he reminds me a lot of myself. I’m just a big fan.
“It was really good because I know what it’s like to be down, I know what it’s like to be injured, I know what it’s like to be counted out. I felt like it was a real gutsy win for him and I was really happy.”
Venus Williams lost in the first round of the US Open for the first time, falling to the 20th seed Karolina Muchova 6-3, 7-5.
“Just having to start very quickly in every tournament with really kind of no room to breathe or adjust during the tournament,” said the 4o year old Venus. “That’s been a little bit tough.”
“To be honest, I’m really happy with my game. I don’t think I played badly tonight. Just needed to start faster than what I did. I’m pretty happy with how I played. She just played a little better.”
Despite the setbacks, she still plays on.
“I love this game. I’m good at what I do. It’s easy to stay motivated and excited about doing something so amazing. Not many people get to do this. Really fortunate and blessed to be someone who has gotten a chance to do it.”
Venus who is a two-time winner of this event, is now just 1-7 on the year.
Another former US Open champion played on Tuesday night. 2017 winner Sloane Stephens, the 26th seed won her first-round match over Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania 6-3, 6-3. This was just the American’s second match win on the year. She’s now 2-8 in 2020.
“I thought I played well tonight. Obviously haven’t been playing that great. Still kind of finding my confidence and my rhythm. Just trying to, like, feel myself on the court a little bit better.
“I think last week was a step in the right direction. Although I didn’t win, I was feeling a little better. Tonight I felt a little bit better on the court. I felt I had a better rhythm. I just kind of felt more like my old self. That’s really all I’m really working towards.
“Obviously it would be amazing to play my best tennis ever, but I know that takes a bit. I’m going to have to just keep working, trying to get back to where I was.”
Stephens, who was on the WTA Player Council was asked about the new Professional Tennis Player Association (PTPA) led by Djokovic and if the WTA players have been asked to participate.
“The women were not included in that,” she said. “Very so much we are separate from that situation. I know there will be discussions after the tournament to see where the women fit in with that.
“I think now once the tournament started everyone focused here on the US Open. That’s very much in the past. I think it will be interesting to see what happens with them and what they do, how they approach it, what it is that they do.
“But I think for now, the women, we are still doing what we’re doing. We’re going to evaluate what they’re doing after the US Open.”
Also asked abut why the women were not included, Stephens said: “I mean, they said they needed to do what they needed to do. I mean, I’m not offended. It is what it is. If it’s right for us, it will be right for us. If not, then not.
“I’m not going to stress out about it too much. It might not be the right situation for us. It might be. We just have to wait and see.”
Kim Clijsters, 37, played her first match at a major since her second retirement back in 2012 on Tuesday night. The four-time major winner lost to 20th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 3-6, 7-5, 6-1.
Clijsters said that she started well but her opponent saw the ball better as the match went on.
“I think leading up to the match today I didn’t know my opponent,” said the Belgian. “I just knew from last few days watching video on her. Then there was a matter of trying to get a feel for it out there, see how fast the ball is she hits, see how accurate her serve is, kind of get a feel for all that.
“Yeah, I felt like I really started — I was in the match from the start. I felt like I was, yeah, being aggressive and serving well, trying to keep her kind of off balance a little bit in her movement.
“I felt like I had a couple chances early on in the second set where I had some breakpoints. Kind of lost my footing a little bit where I had a shorter ball, missed it. Then she started serving a lot better, I felt. She started returning better. Was just missing less I think than in the first set.
“The third set, I felt like she was, yeah, just seeing the ball very well, just hitting her targets all the time.”
This is the third tournament that Clijsters has played in. She was asked about her thoughts on continuing her comeback.
“It’s a process. That’s what I told myself at the start when I took this challenge on, was that it’s going to take a lot of hard work and losses. That’s part of it.
“We’ll see what’s up next. To be honest, I’m not sure at the moment yet. Yeah, we’ll see. It’s been a strange year obviously. When I started in Dubai and Monterrey, was excited to play more tournaments, have the family travel with me. But that obviously didn’t happen. We’ll see what the future holds.”