By Richard Kent, Staff Reporter
FLUSHING, NY — It was Serena Williams’ night at the Open Monday night, before a record crowd of almost 24,000. It was a first-round match with the feel of an Open final.
Williams walked out to thundering applause and it never abated during the match against no. 80 Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. Commenting on the crowd, she noted, “I was just thinking is this for real.”
Williams, despite an erratic serving evening which included 2 double-faults in the first game, won the match 6-3, 6-3. Kovinic was on the verge of a 4-2 lead in the first set after falling behind 2-0, but a Williams shot clipped the back of the line and evened the match at 3-3.
Williams was honored in a ceremony hosted by her friend Gayle King after the match, with few in the large crowd leaving the stadium.
Williams will face no. 2 Anett Kontaveit of Estonia Wednesday night.
She and sister, Venus, will compete in the doubles on Thursday.