Serena Williams Says She Loves ‘Rising To A Challenge’ After Defeating No. 2 Seed In U.S. Open

Following her win over Anett Kontaveit -- the second-ranked player in the world -- in the U.S. Open, Serena Williams humbly admitted she's a 'pretty good player.'

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Serena Williams advanced to the third round of the U.S. Open on Wednesday (Aug. 31) after a marvelous display on the court of Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens, NY. Playing in what could be her final singles tournament, Serena, 40, knocked out second seed Anett Kontaveit in a performance that left fans – including Tiger Woods – on their feet. After defeating Anett, 26, in three sets (7-6, 2-6, 6-2), a confident Serena said that “this is what I do best” in a courtside interview. “I love a challenge. I love rising to the challenge.”

“I’m a pretty good player,” Serena said earlier in the interview. “I haven’t played many matches, but I’ve been practicing really well. My last few matches, it just wasn’t coming together, and I’m like, ‘but this isn’t me.’ The last couple of matches here in New York has really come together.” Serena said that losing the second set was a bit of a wake-up call. “I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, I’ve got to give my best effort because this might be it.'” Thankfully for her supporters, Serena rallied. You know there’s no rush here. I’m loving this crowd – it’s really fantastic,” she said. “There’s still a little left in me. We’ll see.”

Serena revealed in the September 2022 issue of Vogue that she’s preparing for life after tennis. “I’ve been thinking of this as a transition…” she wrote. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.” She cited her interests outside of the court as a reason for her departure – including growing her family with her husband, Alexis Ohanian, and daughter Olympia. “But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.”

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The curtain call will have to wait; Serena’s next match is against Ajla Tomljanović, the No. 38 ranked player in the world, on Sept. 2. The match will be another chance for Serena’s fans and celebrity supporters to show up and show out. Tiger, 26, and his girlfriend, Erica Hermanwatched as Serena put away Kontaveit on Wednesday. “It was a privilege to watch greatness. Congrats @serenawilliams,” he tweeted after the match.

“He’s one of the reasons I’m here, one of the main reasons I’m still playing,” Serena told reporters when discussing Tiger, per CNN. “We talked a lot. He was really trying to get me motivated. There are a few people, but we were like: ‘OK, we can do this together, you know?'”

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