Serena Williams left her fans stunned on Monday after hinting at a potential retirement U-turn after a first round win at the US Open.
Williams took to Arthur Ashe Stadium and received a huge applause as she started the final grand slam tournament of her glittering career.
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The tennis icon even sported a stunning diamond-encrusted outfit for her final appearance in New York.
Williams was inspired by the raucous home crowd as she defeated a nervy Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 to extend her farewell grand slam tournament for at least one more match.
The 23-time grand slam champion was clearly taken aback by the enormity of the support in what is perceived to be her final dash in tennis.
However, the 40-year-old left the door ajar for a potential return down the line after admitting she was overwhelmed after the support since making her announcement.
“Yeah, I've been pretty vague about it [retirement], right?” Williams said in her post-match interview.
“I'm going to stay vague because you never know."
Williams admitted she would never forget the feeling of walking out to the crowd on their feet to celebrate her glittering career.
“I think when I walked out, the reception was really overwhelming. It was loud and I could feel it in my chest. It was a really good feeling," Williams added.
“It's a feeling I'll never forget, so I really - yeah, that meant a lot to me.”
Serena Williams wins first round US Open match
The American champion was simply introduced as the 'greatest of all time' during her walkout to face Kovinic on Arthur Ashe Stadium in front of a raucous home crowd.
Despite her struggles of late, Williams started the match like a player possessed as she drew on the energy of the home crowd to race out to a 2-0 lead.
However, the 40-year-old's serve began to desert her as Kovinić grabbed her first break of the match to get back into the contest.
A double fault from Williams handed the World No.80 her second break as the Montenegrin turned an early deficit into a 3-2 lead.
Williams never looked back as she won the first set and broke early in the second to put her first round match behind her.
Williams will now face World No.2 Anett Kontaveit in the second round encounter.
She also has her first round doubles match, with sister Venus Williams, to play.
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