NEW YORK – Serena Williams stuck to the script Monday night, moving on to the second round of the U.S. Open and continuing her quest to complete the first calendar Grand Slam since 1988.
For all the hype that led up to this match, it was a sputtering start to the tournament. Williams' opponent retired just two games into the second set. But, a win's a win. Williams moves on.
"It was definitely different and bizarre," the 21-time Grand Slam champion said after the match. "But at the same time I was still focused. I kept thinking, you know, just stay focused; don't lose it."
There was really never any chance she'd lose it. Williams and Vitalia Diatchenko were on the court for just 30 minutes before Diatchenko retired with a foot injury. She had already called the trainer out to wrap her left ankle earlier in the match.
Williams held a 6-0, 2-0 when Diatchenko retired. She served six aces and won 13 of 14 first-serve points in the shortened match.
This was Williams' first match under the newly-constructed Arthur Ashe roof skeleton. The roof will not be functional until 2016, but the structure has already altered the atmosphere instide. It made it feel like a dome, Williams said, adding that it felt more intimate. She's always loved the fans in New York. Now, she feels that much closer to them.
“I can feel the love and support on my journey," she said to the crowd after the match. "Whatever happens, I’m here at home, where it all began in 1999."
Earlier Monday, older sister Venus Williams advanced with a three-set win. Americans CoCo Vandeweghe, Madison Brengle, Jessica Pegula, Irina Falconi, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and Madison Keys also advanced. Keys closed out her win in just over an hour, defeating Klara Koukalova 6-2, 6-4.
Serena will face Kiki Bertens in the second round.