US Open: Venus Williams wins opening match against Viktoria Kuzmova

“It’s definitely a different experience, especially for she and I, because we spent our whole lives focused, so focused on work”, Venus said. They are teenagers, flush with talent and adolescent demands for gratification.

Venus Williams is the only American player with a major singles title to her name in the men’s or women’s fields and will open her tournament on Day 1 in Arthur Ashe Stadium against Viktoria Kuzmova of Slovakia, a 19-year-old making her Grand Slam main-draw debut.

Williams, who has not won the title at Flushing Meadows since 2001, reached her first Slam final since 2009 when she lost to Garbine Muguruza at Wimbledon earlier this year. Williams then told the fans in the stadium, “It’s been a attractive 20 years. I love this game”. Her chances improved when Johanna Konta lost Monday, whittling the list down to seven. Over time, the residue of experience in these players has been narrowing many goals down to a simple one: Stay healthy, pick your spots and savor every particle of winning.

“I didn’t know about the race [for No. 1]”, Williams said after the match. ‘To come back and play in a dress from such an exciting collection and collaboration is really special and I can’t wait to show my love for the city of NY on the court’. Serena is the first of the sisters to step away to start a family.

This is one of the longest periods that Serena has been exiled from the sport while Venus has continued to compete.

The most anticipated matchup comes at night in Ashe: Five-time major champion Maria Sharapova plays her first Grand Slam match since the 2016 Australian Open against No. 2-seeded Simona Halep. “It takes time”, Venus said. “There are moments where you have very distinct memories of togetherness”.

There, Williams used well-placed serves and her trademark power to close out the set 6-3, blasting a forehand victor past her young opponent to clinch the opening set.

But it was Williams’ serve that made the crucial difference.

Suddenly, after a handful of holds, Williams gave up an opening on her serve at 4-3, and Kuzmova hit a stunning forehand return out of the American’s reach to claim a 5-3 lead and a chance to serve for the second set. She won 92 percent of her first-serve points in the third and 43 percent of her first serves went unreturned.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting or planning on dropping sets today”, William confessed.

When Kuzmova got to her first set point in the next game, a strong serve followed by a forehand victor clinched the set, 6-3. But the Slovakian got overeager and drove the ball into the net. “I think it would be quite obnoxious of me to come in here expecting I have a right to be in second week”. That’s what I felt with the 2006 dress, and what I really wanted to relive in this dress, ‘ the tennis star recently told Vogue.

And she’s not about to allow anyone to spoil the fun.

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