Serena Williams cruised past world No. 2 Annette Kontavit in the US Open singles match.

“After I lost the second set, I thought, ‘Oh, my goodness, I’ve got to give it my best shot because this might be it,'” Williams told ESPN in an on-court, post-match interview.

Williams looked better this year than in previous tournaments, where she tried to shake off the rust of a long layoff.

In Kontakt, however, Williams faced a much tougher test and was undoubtedly the underdog on paper, but certainly not at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.

A raucous but well-behaved crowd cheered her every point.

He mentioned the long layoff in his interview Wednesday, but said, “I like a challenge.”

Williams will next face Australia’s Ajla Domljanovic in the third round. Playing at the same time as Williams on Wednesday, Domljanovic defeated Russian Evgenia Rodina 1-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Williams didn’t just play singles; She will open doubles action Thursday night with her sister Venus Williams.

“I need more matches,” she told ESPN. “I like being challenged. Yes, I haven’t played many matches, but I’ve been training well. In my last few matches, it just hasn’t come together. I’m like, this is not me.”

Things have changed since he started playing the Open, he said.

She started the singles match Monday won 6-3 6-3 On Tanka Kovinic of Montenegro. This is Williams’ third tournament Since announcing in Vogue magazine After the US Open she will be “away from tennis”.

“I don’t like the word retirement. It doesn’t seem like a modern word to me. I was thinking of it as a change, but I want to be careful how I use that word, something that’s very specific. And important to a community of people,” Williams told Vogue earlier this month. said in the article.

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“Evolution is probably the best word to describe what I’m doing. I’m here to say that I’m moving away from tennis and evolving towards other things that are important to me,” he said.

In her post-match news conference on Monday, Williams was asked if this was definitely her last match.

“Yeah, I was pretty vague about that, wasn’t I?” She said with a smile. “I’m going to be vague because you never know.”

An opening-round win over Kovinjic was Williams’ comeback from injury. He has managed to win just one match since returning to the circuit in June and has not been able to come close to the form that helped him win his last Grand Slam title in 2017.

But Kontaveit, who said she was excited to play against Williams, faced a player who showed no signs of wanting to rush her retirement.

“I think she played well,” the Estonian said during the post-match news conference. “I mean, I thought I didn’t play a bad match.”

After the players split the first two sets, Williams stepped up to decide her match, Kontaveit said.

“She really ran it from there,” she said. “There’s a few points here and there where I feel like I could have made my serve better. I mean, she’s returning better. She’s playing better in rallies. I felt like she did everything a little bit better in the third. Set.”

An enthusiastic crowd supporting Williams was also a challenge, Contweed added.

“I mean, I don’t think they were rooting against me. They wanted Serena to win so bad,” the Estonian said. “So, I don’t think it’s a personal attack against me or anything. I mean, it’s fair. I mean, she deserves it, yeah.”

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Williams burst onto the scene by winning her first US Open in 1999

One of the greatest tennis players of all time, Williams has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and won the US Open 6 times, most recently in 2014. Now 40, Williams’ final match — the 1999 US Open Grand Slam singles victory round — was anything but.

Then a young Williams took the first step on her path to two decades of dominance when she stunned world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the final.

After winning her first Tour-level title in 2017, Kontavede won four WTA tournaments to climb the rankings, but her true breakout year came in 2021.

An aggressive player with a varied game and a powerful forehand, he broke into the world’s top 10 for the first time in November 2021.

He has a career-high ranking of no. Sitting at No. 2 — the highest ranking in history for an Estonian — and a Grand Slam at the age of 26, he will be looking to improve on his best performance with a quarterfinal appearance at the 2020 Australian Open.

Kontaveed looked impressive in her opening-round US Open victory over Romania’s Jacqueline Christian, dropping just three games, and said she was “rooting” for Williams in her first-round match after her win.

CNN’s Steve Almasi contributed to this report.

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