Williams closes it out with a dominant effort in the final game. She wins the match 6-3, 6-3 and advances to take on Anett Kontaveit in the second round.
US Open 2022: Serena Williams wins first round match, moves on to face No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit
Williams is playing in what is likely to be the final US Open of her prolific career
Serena Williams has not played her final US Open match. In front of an electric crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Williams defeated Danka Kovinic in a 6-3, 6-3 win.
Williams got off to a bit of a slow start with some double faults hurting her in the first set. However, she was able to battle back and shake off the early jitters to win, 6-3, as Kovinic had some issues of her own.
In the second set, Williams found more of a rhythm with her serve. As the second set went on, Williams appeared to gain more and more confidence, and Kovinic lost control of the match entirely. Williams rode that momentum to another 6-3 win to take the match and advance.
In her US Open career, Williams is now 99-3 when she wins the first set, and her dominance in the tournament doesn't stop there. With a semifinals appearance in her last 11 appearances at Flushing Meadows, Williams has plenty of experience on her side.
Not only that, but if this first-round matchup is any indication, everyone in attendance at the tournament is behind her. Arthur Ashe Stadium exploded when Williams stepped onto the court, and it broke out into thunderous applause with every point she won.
After the match, Williams spoke to CBS Mornings' Gayle King on the court about what the fan support meant to her.
"The crowd was crazy," Williams said. "It really helped pull me through. I was really pumped. I was like, 'Yes, I got this.'"
Williams also discussed her decision to move away from tennis and into other "chapters" of her life. It wasn't easy, but Williams felt like now was the best time to move onto other things.
"It was a very hard decision because when you love something so much and you're passionate about something, it's always hard to walk away," Williams said. "Sometimes, I think it's harder to walk away than not. That's been the case for me. I've been trying to decide for a little while what to do. It keeps you fit. That's a bonus. I was just like, 'Alright, I think now's the time.' I have a family. There's other chapters in life. I call it evolution."
On top of gunning for her seventh US Open title in women's singles, Williams will also be playing with her sister, Venus, in the doubles tournament. That is something Williams is really looking forward to.
"We're laying it all out here, for me at least. I can't speak for my sister. It's gonna be so fun playing doubles with her. It's gonna be crazy. We haven't done it in so long, and I'm really excited for it."
Williams will now move on to face Anett Kontaveit in the second round. Kontaveit defeated Jaqueline Cristian in consecutive sets in her first match of the tournament.
Williams has shown off her power in the second set, and takes another game. She has a 5-3 lead and is one game away from winning the match.
Kovinic isn't going down without a fight. She responds well by taking the next game and cutting Williams' lead to 4-3 in the second set.
Williams is starting to separate herself from Kovinic. She takes another game, and Williams is now just two games away from advancing to the second round of the US Open.
Williams takes two consecutive games in short order, and she now leads the second set, 3-2. The crowd can sense momentum turning in her favor too. Everyone in the crowd was standing as the match paused for a commercial break.
Williams responds well to Kovinic taking the lead in the second set. She strung together some excellent shots to even it up 2-2.
Kovinic hits a couple of nice serves herself, and she is able to take a 2-1 lead in the second set. Both players are starting to get into more of a rhythm as this match progresses.