Serena Williams takes the stage late Monday for her first match of her her last U.S. Open.
In New York City at Arthur Ashe Stadium she will face her opponent Danka Kovinic. In the past, Serena won at this venue back in 1999 when she was only 17 years old.
Williams who is now 40 has announced her plans to retire from tennis. She will leave behind decades long career in which she transformed the women’s game. Moreover, the sports star also won 23 Grand Slam single titles.
“With her powerful serve and return of serve and athleticism, she really set that standard in the women’s game,” NPR’s Tom Goldman told Morning Edition.
“Her story of the early years in Compton, California, with sister Venus, under the tutelage of their dad, ‘King Richard,’ now of movie fame, that all became part of her legend and paved the way for more young people of color to pursue what had traditionally been a white sport,” Goldman said. “And she brought more people of color into the stands to watch as well.”
Williams has won six U.S. Open singles championships, the last in 2014. On paper, she is the overwhelming favorite on Monday night, with a 20-0 record in U.S. Open first-round matches — without dropping a set since 2001, according to the U.S. Open.
Serena is currently ranked 605th for singles, returning to play only recently after suffering some previous injuries. Her opponent, 27-year-old Kovinic from Montenegro, is on the 80thet rank. The Star had a loss against Naomi Osaka in a previous Open in Australia:
Serena Williams’ focuses on business
Williams played 4 matches, and only won one, sports commentator Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media told Weekend Edition.
“She really is, probably for the first time in her life, an underdog” to win the U.S. Open, Bryant said. “But boy, what a magical fairy tale story if she can come to New York and pull off some magic.”
After she retires from tennis, Williams will continue her pioneering ways and focus on developing a venture capital firm she formed eight years ago.