Serena to face Kovinic in US Open start as retirement looms

Following the tournament draw on Monday, Serena Williams will play Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in the first round of the US Open.

Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion who has intimated that this may be her final match, is paired with Estonia’s second seed Anett Kontaveit in their respective halves of the draw.

If both players win their opening matches at the year’s final Grand Slam tournament, the 40-year-old American great, whose only Grand Slam triumph came at the 1999 US Open, would play Kontaveit in the second round.

All women’s matches in Williams’ half of the draw will take place on Monday, the USTA said later on Thursday.

If Williams makes a surprise run on the Flushing Meadows hardcourts, she might have quite a path to the final as she is just one championship away from Margaret Court’s all-time record 24 Slam victories.

The 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada, the 14th-seeded player and last year’s runner-up at the US Open, might be her opponent in the fourth round, while Ons Jabeur of Tunisia, this year’s Wimbledon runner-up, could be her opponent in the quarterfinals.

The winner from Kontaveit’s quarter of the draw could meet Greek third seed Maria Sakkari or Romania’s seventh-seeded Simona Halep in the semi-finals.

The other half of the bracket features top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland, this year’s French Open champion, and Spanish fourth seed Paula Badosa.

Badosa might play sixth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the quarterfinals, while Swiatek could play US eighth seed Jessica Pegula.

The four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka of Japan is also in Badosa’s section of the draw.

The 11th seed from Britain and defending champion Emma Raducanu would be her opponent in the third round. Sabalenka would be her opponent in the round of 16. Badosa might compete against Victoria Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion.

Venus Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion, could meet Sabalenka in the third round, meaning she could only face younger sister Serena in a US Open final, likely meaning the siblings have faced each other for the final time in a major singles draw.

Serena indicated in interviews earlier this month that she is ready to move on with other areas of her life, including possibly having a second child.

Mridha Shihab Mahmud is a writer, content editor and photojournalist. He works as a staff reporter at News Hour. He is also involved in humanitarian works through a trust called Safety Assistance For Emergencies (SAFE). Mridha also works as film director. His passion is photography. He is the chief respondent person in Mymensingh Film & Photography Society. Besides professional attachment, he loves graphics designing, painting, digital art and social networking.
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