Sports

September 2, 2022

Last Dance Continues! Serena Williams has fire burning for decisive US Open third round

Last Dance Continues! Serena Williams has fire burning for decisive US Open third round

By Adegboyega Remmy Adeleye

“Renowned for superb performances, perseverance, and athleticism, She’s obviously not surprised by her current level which is Serena-esque.”

Serena Williams hasn’t lost before the semifinals at the US Open since 2007. The last dance continues in the US Open third round against 29-year-old Australian, Ajla Tomljanovic who considers herself a huge admirer of the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

“I’ve been a Serena fan,” Tomljanovic said, “since I was a kid.”

“She kind of has that aura, like Roger (Federer), Rafa (Nadal), and deservedly so,” Tomljanovic said. “I always get happy when she says ‘Hi’ to me.”

Serena Williams continued her impressive run at the 2022 US Open and showed no signs of ending her singles career early in the tournament by stunning second seed Anett Kontaveit to advance to the third round- recording her 108th match win at the US Open.

The former world number one, currently ranked 605th, produced a spirited display by winning 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 against second seed, Kontaveit to set up a third-round tie with Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday.

Win or lose, Tomljanovic said she will relish the opportunity to play her idol.

“I think she’s changed the sport of tennis, but also what she’s done worldwide for women in sports is incredible,” she said.

The 29-year-old said Williams’ impact, reverberates well beyond the tennis court.

“She’s paved the way for so many, inspired me to go for my dreams. Even her longevity. I’m kind of in the part of my career now where they call you on the older side. She’s made that kind of nonexistent. ‘Old’ is not even a word in her vocabulary. Very grateful to her like that.”

Resilient Serena Williams proves fire is still burning

On Wednesday, Serena Williams showed that the fire still burns in her, She continued her winning streak in “US Open” opening rounds, now 40-0 in US Open 1st and 2nd rounds.

The 23–time singles Grand Slam winner who plans to evolve away from Tennis after Flushing Meadows further improved her chances of claiming a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title in her final tournament.

Serena edged out a tense first set by winning 7-6 (7-4) after a tie-breaker, slipped in the second set but she recovered to win an edgy decider.

Interestingly, Serena admitted after beating Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the first-round win on Monday that she had been vague about her exact timeline of ‘evolving away’, the spirited display in the second-round tie proves the fact that the fighting spirit hasn’t left the legendary tennis player.

“There is no rush here,” she laughed after beating Estonian tennis star, Kontaveit. “There is still a little left in me.”

Serena Williams was playing just her sixth match after a 11-month lay-off which started after she retired injured at Wimbledon in July 2021.

The atmosphere differed a bit from the ceremonious and celebratory fashion in the opening match on Monday. However, celebrities and iconic figures including golf superstar Tiger Woods, Anna Wintour, actress Zendaya and soul singer Gladys Knight, complemented the adorning crowd that came to support Serena at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The American tennis star didn’t disappoint them as she secured a nervy victory that got many in the crowd jumping to their feet in celebration. Even golfer, Tiger Woods who sat among Williams’ team and family in her support box couldn’t contain his joy as he showered encomiums on Serena after the amazing performance.

He wrote on Twitter- “It was a privilege to watch greatness. Congrats @serenawilliams
https://twitter.com/TigerWoods/status/1565164343775330305?s=20&t=pP42w7F-zzAWFcZbBvVdRQ

How Serena Williams stunned Kontaveit in 108th US Open win

For someone who had only played four times since making her return from an 11-month injury lay-off, Serena Williams only planned to sign off in style at her home grand slam tournament but her recent impresssive performances so far has showed that she has not lost the fighting spirit.

Renowned for superb performances, peserverance, and athlectism, She’s obviously not surprised by her current level which is Serena-esque.

When asked by Mary Joe Fernandez during her post-match interview if she was surprised by her level, Serena proved why she is always Serena.

“Are you surprising yourself with your level at the moment?”
Williams replied: “No. I’m just Serena, you know?”
https://twitter.com/SportsGridTV/status/1565166365119459328?s=20&t=IxSSbKJILYP1j3yNK0KryA

Before the tournament, her most recent match ended in a loss to last year’s US Open winner, Emma Raducanu in Cincinnati, and struggled with a knee-injury in the buildup.

However, at Flushing Meadows she is fit, moving well, playing with verve, matching the athleticism of her younger opponents, and mentally ready to take up every challenge as it comes.

After the dominant performance against Danka Kovinic, she proved her resilience once again even when there was less expectation on her chances particularly as she was squaring up with the second seed, Kontaveit.

She put up her best performance since reaching last year’s Australian Open Semi final where she lost to Naomi Osaka as well as her impressive run to multiple slam finals since the “golden chase”, to progress to the third round.

The match didn’t start well for Serena as the world number two, Kontaveit fought off three break points to hold for 4-3 after a game that lasted more than 11 minutes and faced another in her next service game.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted when Williams broke serve to lead 5-4 and, although she could not serve out the set, she later held her nerve in the tie-break.

As Serena served for the set, she threw her worst game of the match and a double fault handed the break straight back to Kontaveit. It became obvious that the tie would be decided by a tie-break when both players held serve.

Serena refused to be intimidated by Kontaveit’s top seeding as she claimed a mini-break when a Kontaveit drop-shot floated into the net and served out the set with an ace, the nervy tie-breaker ended as Serena claimed the first set 7-6 (7-4).

Leading into the second set, Serena won five of the first six games of the second set but dropped in energy level which gave Kontaveit a clear “heads-up” as she raced into a 3-0 led with a double break. Serena tried to fight-back at 3-1 but Kontaviet was too good to beat in the second set as won the set 6-2.

A re-invigorated and lighter Serena returned in the third set and fired on as she broke serve at the third Kontaveit’s opportunity for a 2-0 lead.

The break after the second set was a blessing for Serena as she appeared revived on her return to the court. She joked it was down to “being lighter” after a toilet break.

Even with a 2-0 lead, it wasn’t so easy for the 40-year-old. There were swings of momentum as the pair swapped breaks in consecutive games. Serena never backed down and as she held the set 4-1, the euphoria of the fans became more evident. Even umpire Allison Huges asked the crowd to settle down at every point.

They indicated their belief in their icon, Serena to complete the victory which she did in amazing fashion by blasting a backhand winner- her 38th winner of the match after a nervous game from Kontaveit, to seal the victory in three sets.

Winning the third set 6-2, she prevailed 2 sets to 1, winning 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2.
Serena struck 11 aces (to six double faults) in her second-round win over Kontaveit.

The Last Dance Continues

Serena has set the standards for greatness over her stellar career and clearly believes she has more to offer.

I’m a pretty good player, this is what I do best. I love a challenge and I’m rising to the challenge”.said the six-time US Open champion.

She continued, “ I haven’t played many matches but I’ve been practising really well. Now it’s coming together in New York. The last couple of matches it’s come together. After I lost the second set I thought, ‘I’ve got to give my best effort because this could be it’.

“Really I just wanted to just keep trying, see what I could do, just do my best.”

Golf legend, Tiger Woods was among the famous faces cheering on Serena, he sat among Williams’ team and family in her support box with Serena saying afterwards her friend’s motivating chats were “one of the main reasons” she was still playing.

Kontaveit feels Serena raised her level and hers was decent in her first career meeting with the legendary tennis player.

She said, “There’s a few people, but we were like, ‘OK, we can do this together. It was good, because I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was just lost, so many questions. When you can rely on someone like that – I mean, my goodness, he’s Tiger Woods – it was really helpful to get clarity.”she “didn’t play a bad match at all”

“I think you have to be ready for really great tennis because Serena has been such a big champion, winning all these Grand Slam titles for a reason,” she added.

“She definitely raised her level in the third set. She played amazing.”

Serena Williams has constantly shown that there’s much fire in her to continue her excellent strides.

The 23-time Grand slam winner feels everything here is a bonus and wants to stay focused and enjoy her “last dance” with electrifying and phenomenal performances as she did on the night by stunning the second seed.

As she continues her fine form, her dream-ending wish of a record-equalling 24th Grand slam surely becomes more realistic and possible.

A stellar 27-year career blessed with a plethora of laurels and dominating the scene from 1999 to date, the legendary tennis player has constantly proved why she is “The Greatest of all time” with or without the bonus of winning the 24th Grand slam.

Serena Williams said, “I feel like everything here is a bonus. It’s that weird mixture of embracing but also staying focused.

I don’t have anything to lose. I’ve had an X on my back since 1999. I really enjoy just coming out and enjoying it.”

~Serena Jameka Williams