Retiring tennis great Serena Williams has taken fans on a rollercoaster ride of emotions during her first round match at the US Open.
Facing Montenegrin Danka Kovinić in what loomed as potentially the final match of her incredible career, Williams had other ideas as she won a drama-filled contest 6-3 6-3.
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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.
Once again seeming to respond to the crowd's unwavering support in New York, Williams turned the set on its head once again by claiming successive breaks on the Kovinić to go a whisker within claiming the opening set.
Serving at 5-3, the American found herself in trouble to managed to fend off more break points before bombing down a big ace to set up set point.
Williams then forced her opponent into a forehand error to clinch the opener, before roaring in celebration as fans inside Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted as one.
Serena grabbed the crucial break in the fifth game of the second set, and with her previously shaky serve now looking stronger, moved in for the kill.
Williams sparkled another enormous roar from the crowd when she held to love to jump out to a 5-3 lead, forcing Kovinić to serve for the match.
The American then capitalised on a double fault and a pair of errors from Kovinić to set up three break points to take out the match.
As it turned out, Williams only needed one as the American forced Kovinić into another error that sealed a big win for the home hero.
The incredible scenes left viewers in a frenzy on social media.
Absolute chills watching the queen defend her throne. #SerenaWilliams
— Erika Harold (@ErikaHarold) August 30, 2022
That crowd energy was amazing!
— CeeCee (@Ceecee3085) August 30, 2022
@serenawilliams wowwww! Just gave me chills watching that.
— Porter Groves (@PorterGGolf) August 30, 2022
Watching the atmosphere of Serena Williams getting her first round win at the US Open… I’ve got chills. It felt like she just won the major. That was awesome.
— Karthik Venkataraman (@KarthikV_) August 30, 2022
#SerenaWilliams is amazing! It's impossible to hate her. I have nothing but admiration for this tennis legend!
— #1InNewYork (@sinnerprop) August 30, 2022
Serena Williams advance to the next round!!!!! Ahhhhhhh let's goooooooo. I'm so happy!!! Kovinic did well out there too. Gotta give her respect and props for putting on an amazing match. #USOpen2022
— Kenma's twin (@SportsAnime1) August 30, 2022
Serena Williams outfit detail sends fans wild
Williams and her daughter Olympia were the talk of the tennis world before play started, after sporting a matching outfit for the 41-year-old's final grand slam tournament.
Having announced the US Open would be her last tournament in a glittering career spanning more than 20 years, all eyes were on Williams on the first night in New York.
And living up to her billing as tennis royalty, Williams stunned the tennis world walking out onto court in an all-black outfit covered in diamonds.
Adding to the mystique, Williams' daughter Olympia was also seen in the crowd wearing a matching outfit and taking a photo of her mother.
The Nike outfit was designed by Williams and modelled after a figure-skater's dress.
The dress has six layers, to replicate her six US Open titles, and her shoes have a diamond encrusted Nike swoosh.
Williams entered the matcha against Kovinic with a deafening roar from the crowd.
Before the match, American teen and first round winner Coco Gauff paid tribute to Williams and the influence she's had on her own career.
"Before Serena came along, there was not really an icon of the sport that looked like me.
"So growing up, I never thought that I was different because the No. 1 player in the world was somebody who looked like me.
"I think that's the biggest thing that I can take from what I've learned from Serena."
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