Serena Williams made her 2020 US Open debut on Tuesday and won against Kristie Ahn in the first round 7-5, 6-3. This grew her tally of US Open singles match wins to 102, the most of any tennis player in the tournament's history. Williams tied the record held by Chris Evert at last year's US Open semifinals. One of the best parts of this new record? Williams achieved it on daughter Olympia's birthday!
Williams, who turns 39 this month and has six US Open titles under her belt, won her first US Open match in 1998 — though it wasn't until the year after that she received her first Grand Slam victory at the US Open. In a court interview after the first-round match on Tuesday, she said she was happy with how she fought for every point, adding that she got her "Serena focus" back.
"It's been years, since the '90s, since I won a match in straight sets!" Williams admitted. "It felt really good. I was like, 'Serena, just be Serena and close it out,' and I know I can do that, so it felt really good." Playing without fans was quiet, she noted, but the atmosphere still felt like a Grand Slam to her. "I'm still as, I think, passionate and intense out there."
Williams continued, "I've always said, 'You can't do it forever,' even though I've kind of been doing it just over forever. One of these days, it's going to end, and I just love being out here." She is chasing her 24th Grand Slam singles win, which would tie Margaret Court's overall record. Williams is scheduled to compete in the second round on Thursday — and with each win she may lock down, she will continue to beat the US Open match-winning record she set this week.
Williams's older sister Venus, the oldest player on the 2020 US Open card, lost her first-round match with Williams in the crowd. However, she reached the most US Open appearances with 22. Serena said after her own match that both sisters never thought they'd still be playing over two decades since their pro tennis careers began. "It's kind of cool now," she stated, "we're part of the in crowd by playing at our age."