The stars were in attendance to see Serena Williams, but it was the GOAT who shined the brightest in her opening match at the US Open.
In what could be her final US Open before she formally evolves from the world of professional tennis, Serena Williams continued her streak of opening night dominance on Monday night (Aug.29).
The vibe at Arthur Ashe stadium in Queens was celebratory as big names like Mike Tyson, Spike Lee, Offset, Oprah, former US President Bill Clinton, and more packed seats for one last glimpse of Williams’ dominance. The vibe for the night was Serena Williams being given her well-deserved flowers to celebrate years of professional tennis greatness, whether she was victorious or not.
Before the match with 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic, Williams, dressed in a custom all-black Nike ensemble with diamonds in her hair, walked out to what might be the loudest roar of her entire career.
Once the match started, it took some for Williams to get into winning form. In the first set, she was down 4-2 Kovinic before she turned things around with a backhand return that eventually led her to a 6-3, 6-3 comeback victory in straight sets. The win was the 40th time she won an opening match and gave Williams her 366 Grand Slam victory, the most for a woman player.
Serena Williams Got Her Flowers
Following the end of the match, Williams was surprised by CBS This Morning’s Gayle King, who paid homage to the tennis superstar with a special tribute ceremony. A video narrated by Oprah Winfrey was played, and fellow tennis legend Billie Jean King was on hand to salute the GOAT.
“You touched our hearts and minds to be our authentic self,” King told Williams. “To use our voices. To dream big. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to diversity, equality, and inclusion and especially for women and women of color. Most of all, thank you for sharing your journey with every single one of us.”
“I could feel it in my chest, and it was a really good feeling. It’s a feeling I will never forget, and that meant a lot to me,” a visibly moved Williams said, acknowledging the energy throughout the night.
Since penning her essay in Vogue Magazine announcing she was “evolving” away from the sport, Williams has received standing ovations at every tournament she has played in.
You can expect that energy to continue when she takes the court with her sister Venus Williams for doubles play and her second singles match against the number two seed in the tournament, Anett Kontaveit of Estonia.
Photo: Newsday LLC / Getty