10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Serena Williams prolongs career with first-round win at final US Open

Serena Williams in action during her US Open first-round win. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

There was an on-court ceremony for Serena Williams on Monday night at the U.S. Open.

But it wasn’t because she lost.

The sold-out crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium not only saw Williams win in what is presumably the final tournament of her illustrious career, but they were also treated to some post-match festivities even though it wasn’t her last singles match. Williams defeated Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 and afterward was honored by Billie Jean King, Oprah (via video), and others.

“You are fearless,” King told the 23-time Grand Slam champion, who announced her upcoming retirement–not with that exact word, however–in an essay for Vogue earlier this month. “I love it. And you hate to lose. It is great. You’ve touched our hearts and minds to be our authentic self, to use our voices, to dream big. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially for women and women of color. Yes!

“Most of all, thank you for sharing your journey with every single one of us. We love you.”

“Thank you for making the bright lights brighter and the Big Apple bigger,” Oprah commented. “Thank you for showing us how to be graceful, powerful, fearless. Thank you for dressing to the nines and bringing your dancing shoes. Thank you for turning Centre Court into Center Stage. For bringing the house down.

“Thank you for showing us what it means to come back and for never, ever backing down. Thank you for changing the face of the game, for inspiring the next generation. Thank you for thinking outside the lines and encouraging us to evolve. Thank you for showing us how to love the sport, and for always loving us back.

“Just know whatever you do next, we’ll be watching.”

Next for the 40-year-old isn’t retirement–at least not yet. It’s not even doubles with Venus, which will happen starting later this week. Williams’ reward for Monday’s success is a second-round date with No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit.

It’s not over yet.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.