Arthur Ashe erupts for Williams
Kovinic walks out onto court to a muted applause. Almost like no one realised she was there.
The crowd are being treated to a video montage of Williams, narrated by Queen Latifah.
Dressed all in black, Williams comes out onto court. Her Olympia is in the crowd taking pictures.
Everyone in the crowd has their phones out. That was an incredible reception.
It wouldn’t be a US tournament without a rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner
Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose is now on court to sing the US national anthem.
A standing ovation for a very impressive display.
We’re moments away now…
A nice touch from the US Open organisers
The Ukrainian Chorus Dumka of New York are currently singing Whitney Houston’s classic ‘One Moment in time’
Very nicely done I must say.
Serena fine-tunes her game…
Unsurprisingly we aren’t starting on time
The crowd is still filling into the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
We’ll also have an opening ceremony before the action gets under way.
A sold out crowd on Arthur Ashe tonight
Stacey Allaster, US Open tournament director said:
Once Serena announced she would play the U.S. Open, we sold out in a nanosecond for Monday night and Tuesday night. You can see on the secondary market, the get-in price is $230. I saw $5,800 for a courtside seat this evening. Look, this is a historic moment for the Williams family, for Serena and our sport.
It is so difficult to really capture what Serena and Venus have done for the sport of tennis. They have transformed our sport. They’ve made us more inclusive. And they’ve transcended sports.
Spare a thought for Danka Kovinic…
… it is going to be a tricky match for her
Tonight’s star attraction
Hello and welcome to what is guaranteed to be an emotional night in New York.
Tonight could be Serena Williams’ final match as a singles player with the American set to retire at the end of the US Open. She headlines the opening night of the final grand slam of the season when she takes on Danka Kovinic on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Earlier this month Williams signalled her intention to retire in a Vogue article saying she was “evolving away from tennis” but never confirming the US Open as her final event. However, the likelihood is this will be her last tournament as a professional player and will go down as one of the sport’s greats. Williams has six US Open titles, winning the first of 23 singles Grand Slam titles in 1999 but a 24th appears unlikely.
“Emotions can only carry you so far, I don’t see a Cinderella happy ending where she wins the tournament,” Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles and the world No 1 for 332 weeks.
“The way she has looked, it doesn’t look like she is going to make a miraculous comeback and win the tournament.”
Williams arrives at Flushing Meadows on the back of a 6-4, 6-0 humbling in Cincinnati by British teenager and current US Open champion Emma Raducanu. But in the eyes of her fellow players, Williams’ impact is unmatched.
“Her legacy is really wide, to the point where you can’t even describe it in words. She changed the sport so much. She’s introduced people that have never heard of tennis into the sport. I think I’m a product of what she’s done. I wouldn’t be here without Serena, Venus, her whole family. I’m very thankful to her,” Naomi Osaka said.
“I also was trying to figure out how to sum it into words. I honestly think that she’s the biggest force in the sport.”