US Open: Enduring Serena Williams joins Navratilova in elite company with rare feat after first-round win

·2-min read

Serena Williams joined elite company in the final tournament of her playing career becoming the fourth player in the Open Era to win a grand slam match in her teens, 20s, 30s and 40s.

Williams joined 18-time grand slam champion Martina Navratilova, former world number four and three-time major semi-finalist Kimiko Date Krumm and and sister Venus Williams in achieving the feat.

The American's 6-3 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in the US Open first round on Monday comes ahead of her 41st birthday next month, with Williams aged 40 years and 337 days.

The 40-year-old has been lauded for her decorated playing career, highlighted by 23 grand slam titles, but none of that is possible without durability.

Williams's career spans 27 years, having turned professional in 1995 and first played in a major in 1998 at the Australian Open. She featured in that year's US Open too and has won every first-round match at Flushing Meadows in her career (21).

The ceremony and pomp after Monday's win was bigger than ever, with words from Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King along with an extended interview conducted by Gayle King with Williams, followed by a crowd display of signs reading "We love Serena".

Several US Open crowd attendance records were broken in the process too, including 41,390 fans streaming in for the opening day.

It all offered a level of finality, despite Williams still being live in the tournament, albeit with a tougher test against second seed Anett Kontaveit to come in the second round on Wednesday.

Despite all that, Williams, who has steered clear of the word retirement instead using "evolution", teased reporters when she replied to a question about the US Open definitively being her final tournament with a smile.

"Yeah, I've been pretty vague about it, right? I'm going to stay vague because you never know," she said.