The US Open is the final major of the year, but more importantly, it’s the final tournament in the legendary career of Serena Williams.
According to ESPN, Serena will play Danka Kovinic, currently ranked No. 80 in the world. The two have never played one another, so there’s a chance the 27-year-old from Montenegro could be intimidated by the moment. Serena has already admitted she’ll be emotional when she steps onto the court.
While appearing on the debut episode of Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex’s podcast Archetypes, the 23-time Grand Slam champion explained how difficult it will be to say goodbye to tennis.
“I’m going to be crying at everything. Don’t think I’m sad. It’s not sad tears. I’ve been doing this since I can remember. And I’m 40 years old now, so it’s like my whole entire being and my whole entire life has been for one purpose. So to not do that anymore, it’s exciting, right? I’m really looking forward to it,” Serena said.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist has played in two US Open warm up tournaments, but she’s lost in the opening round of both. If she makes it past Kovinic, Serena will likely play No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round.
Elsewhere in the draw, Serena’s equally legendary sister, Venus Williams, will begin her time in New York against Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium. The two-time US Open champion hasn’t played much singles in the last year, so this may be her only solo match. However, it’s a safe bet Venus may also compete in either women’s or mixed doubles.
No. 12 seed Coco Gauff will start the quest for her first major title against an as yet unnamed qualifier, while former US Open finalist Madison Keys plays Ukraine’s Dayana Yastremska, Taylor Townsend competes with the Czech Republic’s Kateřina Siniaková and 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens battles Greet Minnen of France.
It’s exciting to see so many Black women in the draw this year. As we prepare to give Serena her flowers, all these amazing athletes competing on one of the sport’s biggest stages is her and Venus’ true legacy.
The 2022 US Open begins Monday, Aug. 29 on the ESPN Networks.