NEW YORK (AP) — Making quick work of an opponent for a change, Serena Williams wrapped up her 102nd career U.S. Open match win to break a tie with Chris Evert for the most in the professional era.
Then Williams headed back out to the Arthur Ashe Stadium stands Tuesday night, her dog in tow. Williams had a match to watch — her older sister’s, which did not work out as well.
Serena Williams, who turns 39 this month, defeated Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3. But Venus Williams, who is 40, lost in the U.S. Open’s first round for the first time in 22 appearances, beaten 6-3, 7-5 by No. 20 Karolina Muchova.
It is the fourth time in the past five Grand Slam tournaments that Venus exited in her opening match.
“I just ran out of time today,” Venus said.
Venus, who won two of her seven major singles championships in New York, was trying to become only the third woman in her 40s to win a U.S. Open singles match.
“We would have never thought we would still be out here, to be honest,” Serena said.
“I love my job. At the end of the day, I love what I do. I’ve always said, ‘You can’t do it forever,’” she said after delivering 13 aces and dropping only six points on her serve.
“One of these days,” Serena said, “it’s going to end.”
She has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the most in the professional era, which began in 1968; only Margaret Court collected more, with 24.
Six of Serena’s trophies came at the U.S. Open, and she also was the runner-up four times, including each of the past two years.
Entering Tuesday, Serena had been 3-2 since tennis matches resumed after a hiatus because of the coronavirus pandemic — and all five went three sets.
So Tuesday’s match was a welcome change.
“It’s been years — since the ’90s — since I won a match in straight sets,” Serena joked.
“I’ve been playing a ton of tight matches,” she said. “I felt like, all right, I just wanted to be ‘Serena-focused’ from the first point to the last point, no matter what happens.”
Her career mark at the hard-court event is 102-13, a winning percentage of .887.
“In a weird way, I feel like every time I come here, I’m being told I broke another record,” Serena said.
“It’s cool. I don’t think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate,” she said. “But I’m in the middle of a Grand Slam, so it’s not the time to be focused for me on records when I’m thinking about winning a tournament.”
NEW PLAYERS ASSOCIATION
The man who joined Novak Djokovic in trying to start a new association to represent male tennis players, Vasek Pospisil, said there’s been “a lot of misleading information in terms of what we’re trying to accomplish” in setting up the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA).
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are among those who have said they’re not in favor of the proposal to set up something outside of the ATP Tour.
As things stand, tennis players do not have a union, the way athletes in the major North American team sports do.
“The structure within the ATP leaves the players completely, like, powerless,” Pospisil said. “Our voices are just not heard. That’s all we’re trying to do here.”
Pospisil reached the U.S. Open’s second round on Tuesday by beating Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6 (4), 7-5, 7-6 (3) and will face 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic in an all-Canadian matchup next.
One of the two players dropped from the Western & Southern Open draw last month after their fitness trainer tested positive for the coronavirus spoke out Tuesday about what he called unfair treatment.
Guido Pella, an Argentine seeded 29th at Flushing Meadows, lost his first-round match at the U.S. Open to American wild-card entry J.J. Wolf 6-2, 0-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Pella said he tested negative nine times for COVID-19 but still was quarantined and withdrawn from the Western & Southern Open — along with Bolivia’s Hugo Dellien, who also lost Tuesday — after they had contact with the trainer. Seven players were allowed to remain in the U.S. Open after they had contact with another player, Benoit Paire, who tested positive.
“I suffered one of the worst injustices,” Pella said. “We were not treated equally.”
AP Sports Writers Steven Wine and Eric Núñez contributed to this report.
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