NEW YORK — Serena Williams eliminated No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 in the U.S. Open’s second round Wednesday night to ensure that the 23-time Grand Slam champion will play at least one more singles match at what she’s hinted will be the last tournament of her illustrious career.
The 40-year-old Williams was again buoyed by a loud crowd at a full Arthur Ashe Stadium, just as she was in the first round two days earlier.
She hit serves at up to 119 mph, stayed with Kontaveit during lengthy exchanges of big swings from the baselines and conjured up some of her trademark brilliance when it was needed most.
After pulling out a tight first set, then faltering a bit in the second, Williams headed to the locker room for a bit of a break before the third.
Something had to give, someone had to blink.
When they resumed, it was Williams who lifted her level and emerged as the better player.
Just as she’s done, so many times on so many stages, with so much at stake.
The six-time champion at Flushing Meadows will play Friday for a spot in the fourth round. Her opponent will be Ajla Tomljanovic, a 29-year-old Australian.
Williams wore the same glittery crystal-encrusted top and diamond-accented sneakers — replete with solid gold shoelace tags and the word “Queen” on the right one, “Mama” on the left — that she sported Monday.
Long someone whose on-court fashion has stood out from the crowd, Williams helped design the Nike combo, which was inspired by what figure skaters wear to compete. Williams’ daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 on Thursday, wore her own version to sit in the stands Monday, along with beads that paid tribute to Mom’s hairstyle when she won her first major title 23 years ago.