The Standing Ovation For Serena, The Celebs And More

The 23-time major champion Serena Williams won her first-round match 6-3, 6-3 over Danka Kovinic at the US Open on Monday August 29.

It was a wonderful scene as Serena was watched by large number of people, as she does her ‘enchantment’ on Kovinic.

“You know, I always just got to do the best that I can,” Williams said to the crowd after the match. “I feel so comfortable on this court, in front of everyone here.

“When I step out on the court, I just want to do my best that I can on that particular day. That’s really all I can really do.”

Since Williams, 40, declared her looming plans to retire from tennis in Vogue recently, she has been given a goodbye visit through sorts, and got deeply heartfelt applauses at both the Canadian Open and the Western and Southern Open.

On the night of Monday August 29 at the US Open, the sold-out crowd here of almost 24,000 – – which included an A-List celebs and famous people, including former President Bill Clinton, Spike Lee, Lindsey Vonn, Bella Hadid, Rebel Wilson, Vera Wang, Mike Tyson, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Gladys Knight, Martina Navratilova and even Coco Gauff – – were on their feet before Williams even took the court.

After a video described by Queen Latifah was shown summing up her unbelievable career, Williams was introduced to the crowd as the “Greatest Of All Time” to loud cheers that continued during any break in the action throughout the match.

“The reception was really overwhelming,” Williams told reporters. “It was loud and I could feel it in my chest. It was a really good feeling. It’s a feeling I’ll never forget, so I really — yeah, that meant a lot to me.”

It was Williams’ 102nd win at Arthur Ashe Stadium – – the most by any player since it opened in 1997 – – and extended her record for Grand Slam triumphs by a woman to 366. After the match, Williams was celebrated with an on-court function that included Gayle King and Billie Jean King, as well as a “Thank you, Serena” video from Oprah Winfrey.

“First of all, thanks, I didn’t expect any of this,” Williams told the crowd, before crediting the fans for pulling her through to the win.

Tickets for Monday’s night session turned into a hot product after Williams’ declaration in Vogue. According to TickPick, an optional ticket site, the cost to go to Monday’s night event was more expensive than any US Open womens’ final on record.

The average secondary market ticket price was listed at $987 as of Monday morning, according to ticket analytics firm TicketIQ. There were 29,402 fans on the grounds for the night session — a US Open record.

Indeed, even her training session before the match drew, a lot of fans pulled in to sneak a look of the legend, with rows arranged to get a brief look through a lattice wall.

Yet, in spite of the show and losing three of her four matches since returning at Wimbledon after a yearlong nonappearance, Williams wasn’t prepared to call it a career right now.

On Monday, wearing a figure-skating-inspired dress originally designed with six layers to represent all six of her US Open titles (but ultimately with four removed due to their weight) and matching diamonds in her hair, Williams glided around the court — and twirled at the end — and showed flashes of what has made her one of the all-time greats. She had nine aces and notched 22 winners in the 99-minute match.

Williams will next play No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday in the second round, in addition to playing doubles alongside sister Venus, whom she called her “rock” on Monday.

The two have come out on top for 14 major championships all together, most recently at Wimbledon in 2016. This denotes their most memorable time playing together since the French Open in 2018. The pair is booked to open play against Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova on Wednesday or Thursday.

Venus, 42, has not revealed any plans to retire, but has played sparingly throughout the last year. Williams said she was eager to proceed with her altercation singles, but wasn’t centered around her next match right now.

“At this point, honestly, everything is a bonus for me,” Williams said. “I mean, I think every opponent is very difficult. I’ve seen that over the summer. The next one is even more difficult.

“It’s good that I was able to get this under my belt. I don’t know, I’m just not even thinking about that. I’m just thinking about just this moment. I think it’s good for me just to live in the moment now.”

Asked if this will definitively be her final tournament, Williams replied with a knowing smile: “Yeah, I’ve been pretty vague about it, right?”

And then she added: “I’m going to stay vague, because you never know.”

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