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Serena Williams at the US Open: How to watch her first match


Serena Williams practices at Arthur Ashe Stadium before the U.S. Open in Queens, Aug. 25, 2022. (Photos by Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times)

By Jesús Jiménez


Those who want to see Serena Williams play before she retires from tennis have at least two shots coming up.


Williams is set to play Danka Kovinic in the first round of the U.S. Open today, with her match scheduled for 7 p.m. Eastern. If Williams loses, it could be the last time she plays in a major singles tournament.


Fans may see her singles match in person at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the New York City borough of Queens, or at home on television.


She also plans to play in the U.S. Open women’s doubles tournament, partnered with her sister Venus. The draw for that tournament has not been determined, but the first-round matches are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday.


On Saturday morning, Williams was one of the first players on the practice court for an early hitting session. Afterward, a large crowd of fans watched as she exited the tennis center complex in a black SUV.


Here’s what you need to know ahead of Monday’s marquee match:


How did we get here?


When a hamstring injury forced Williams to retire in the first round of Wimbledon last year, many began to wonder whether the 23-time Grand Slam champion would return to the game she has dominated for the better part of more than two decades.


In mid-June, Williams gave her fans a vague glimmer of hope that she would return to the game, when she posted a picture on Instagram of her shoes on grass.


“SW at SW19,” Williams said in the caption, referring to the postal code of the All England Club, where Wimbledon is played. “It’s a date. 2022 See you there.”


Without playing in any tuneup matches, Williams made it to Wimbledon, only to lose in the first round. Then after winning a first-round match in the National Bank Open in Toronto in early August, Williams appeared on the cover of Vogue magazine, and in an article she shared that she planned to step away from tennis after the U.S. Open.


In the first-person essay, Williams said that she was “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important,” adding that she planned to focus on her venture capital firm and grow her family, meaning a sibling for her daughter, Olympia, 4.


Since then, she has lost in the second round in Toronto and in the first round at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio.


Want to see Williams live?


For her singles match, you’ll need a ticket for a night session Monday in Arthur Ashe Stadium. As of Saturday afternoon, the cheapest seats available on resale for Monday night in Arthur Ashe were well over $200 each and in the nosebleeds.


Those who want a better view of Williams will need to pay substantially more. Resale tickets in the midlevel of Arthur Ashe were selling for about $1,000 and up as of Saturday. Tickets in the lowest level of the stadium were selling for nearly $4,000 each.


Do you just want a taste of the action?


Consider buying a night session ticket for Louis Armstrong Stadium and watching the Williams match on a big screen set up in front of Arthur Ashe. The Armstrong tickets won’t get you into Arthur Ashe, but you’ll be free to roam around the grounds of the U.S. Open among other tennis fans, who also want to soak up the atmosphere.


Armstrong tickets on Friday were selling for about $110. There will be other night matches at Louis Armstrong on Monday, but not Williams against Kovinic.


Rather just watch at home?


Tune in to ESPN on Monday to watch the match from the comfort of your home. (If you’re in Canada, tune in to TSN.)


If that’s not quite enough, consider making your own Honey Deuce, the official cocktail of the U.S. Open, and you’ll feel like you’re at the tournament.


Who is Williams playing?


Williams will take on Kovinic, a 27-year-old from Montenegro, who is ranked No. 80 in the world. The two have never played each other.


Kovinic has had a decent year, reaching the third round of the Australian Open and the French Open. At the Australian Open, Kovinic defeated Emma Raducanu, the reigning U.S. Open champion, in three sets.


At U.S. Open media day Friday, Raducanu was asked about her match against Kovinic, and Raducanu said that it was a match she won’t forget.


“I don’t know how it ended up so close,” Raducanu said. “She was really, really solid, was staying with you, counterpunching. Then after you drop one after a long rally, then she would attack. She’s happy to run, happy to rally.”


What happens if Williams wins in the first round?


If Williams wins, those who missed a chance to see her Monday will get another chance in the second round of the tournament, which starts Wednesday for women’s singles. Williams would likely play another night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium.


In the second round, she would face the winner of Anett Kontaveit and Jaqueline Cristian. Kontaveit, the No. 2 in the world, is favored to win her match and would be a difficult opponent for Williams.


How far can Williams go in the U.S. Open?


Pam Shriver, an ESPN commentator, said it will largely depend on her health. Complicating that will be the number of adept players in the women’s draw, Shriver said.


“It’s hard for me right now to see her making a run into the second week,” Shriver said. “But it’s still fun to dream, and so until a dream is no longer possible, I’m choosing to still have it as a dream. It would be like the greatest sports story ever.”


Who else plays Monday night?


When the Williams and Kovinic match is over, there’s still more tennis scheduled. After that match, Arthur Ashe will host the first round men’s singles match between Australians Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis.


The match will be special for them because they have played doubles matches together over the years. Plus, any time Kyrgios is on court, fans can count on seeing one of his classic between-the-legs shots.

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