Overcoming the emotion, in front of 23,800 fans who only had eyes for her, despite the specter of a final defeat probably synonymous with retirement, Serena Williams made his debut at the US Open Monday, extending the pleasure to the end of a ceremony in the form of an ultimately premature tribute. Farewells are more beautiful when they are not yet. Carried by chanted “GOATs” from the stands of the Arthur-Ashe court, the scene of some of her greatest victories – including six coronations at Flushing Meadows – the 40-year-old American ended up shining brighter, to beat the Montenegrin Danka Kovinic in straight sets (6-3, 6-3).
Diamonds are forever. Serena too. So she had decided to wear it. No less than 400, in the hair, encrusted on her headband, on her black dress and on her sneakers, said precious stones drawing the Nike logo with stars around it. The “Queen” entered the arena in a crash of decibels, after a video showing her six coronations at Flushing Meadows, commented on by another famous Queen, Latifah, singer, actress, producer, hailing “the Queen” who “does not will never be defeated without a fight”.
“The crowd was crazy”
Under the eyes of her husband Alexis Ohanian, her daughter Olympia and an audience of stars – mike tysonLindsey Vonn, Hugh Jackman, Spike Lee, bill clinton, who was president when Williams began to write his legend in 1999 with a first Major title at the US Open – Serena roared, shouted, clenched his fist and even raised it on the way to a victory that is worth many triumphs. The excitement was at its height on his first match point, the right one, the public standing before his opponent’s service, to immortalize the moment with the phones. “Unheard of in Flushing” from the memory of a journalist from New York Times who has yet seen many historic matches.
“The crowd was crazy. It really helped me out. I feel so comfortable, in front of everyone here. When I get on the court, I just want to do my best, especially on a night like this,” she later said. Victory in hand, everyone then exulted, in the stands where diversity has never been so visible for a sport long reserved for the white elite. Proof of Serena’s immense impact on her sport.
“Ten or twenty years ago, this place didn’t look like this,” says Tia Green, in her fifties from Oklahama City with four cousins. “Coming from an underprivileged neighborhood in California, Compton, where there were no tennis courts…She became an inspiration and dominated the sport. For minorities, she is an ambassador. She showed that you could do things you thought were impossible. »
Last tournament, really?
Icon beyond the courts, Serena did not fail to be greeted, during a ceremony of about half an hour in the presence of another tennis legend, Billie Jean King. “You are not afraid of anything. I love that. And you hate losing. It’s awesome. You have touched our hearts and our minds. Thank you for your leadership and commitment to greater diversity, equity and inclusion, especially for women and women of color,” the gender equality activist paid tribute to her.
” Next ” ? It happens on Wednesday. Because Serena the fighter intends to continue her last dance against the Estonian Anett Kontaveit, any world number 2 she is. And maybe even after… Because the American, when confirming at a press conference that this was indeed her last tournament, left some doubts. “I’ve been pretty vague about that, haven’t I? I will stay because you never know, ”she replied. Enigmatic.