Serena Williams insists she isn’t focusing on records as she took a step towards 24th Grand Slam title with a straight-sets win in the US Open first round.
The 38-year-old overcame the loss of her first service game in the opening set to power past Kristie Ahn 7-5, 6-3 in a virtually empty Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Williams is pursuing a seventh US Open title at the US National Tennis Centre that would take her level with Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
But she insisted afterwards that neither record is really on her mind.
“Yeah, in a weird way I feel like every time I come here I’m being told I broke another record. I felt like I had something last year. Maybe it was a tie for Chris Evert,” she said nonchalantly.
“But it’s cool. I don’t think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate. 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,” Serena Williams added.
It has been more than three years since Serena Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open – when she was already pregnant with daughter Olympia.
She has come close since, reaching four major finals only to come away empty-handed.
Her chances have improved this year by the absence of several top players, including world number Ashleigh Barty and the second-ranked Simona Halep, due to coronavirus fears or injury.
Williams took a few games to get into the swing of things, giving up her serve early on with a double fault.
But once she was in her groove there was no stopping her, smashing 13 aces as she dispatched Ahn in one hour 21 minutes.
“It was just getting the rhythm in the early part of the match. First round is always tough for me.”
“I was down a break at one point, so I was really fighting for everything,” Serena Williams told reporters.
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