Aug 29, 2022 - Sports

Serena Williams' last dance

Serena Williams' top singles rank, by year
Data: WTA; Chart: Simran Parwani/Axios

Make sure you're by a TV Monday night for Serena Williams' first-round match at the U.S. Open. It could be the last time we ever get to see the GOAT in action.

Catch up quick: Williams, 40, said earlier this month that she plans to "evolve away from tennis" after the U.S. Open. Thus, each match could be her last.

  • Up first? World No. 80 Danka Kovinić of Montenegro (7pm ET, ESPN).

What they're saying: "When Serena was playing in the past, the atmosphere already was electric, so I can't imagine what it'll be out there now," said 17th seed Caroline Garcia.

By the numbers: Williams' dominance has been unmatched since winning her first of an Open Era-record 23 Grand Slam titles at this very tournament 23 years ago, when she was just 17.

  • She first reached No. 1 three years later in July 2002 and most recently held that spot in May 2017 — the longest time ever between No. 1 rankings (man or woman).
  • In the interim, she twice achieved the "Serena Slam," holding all four major titles at once. And after winning singles gold at the 2012 Olympics, she became the only player with a Career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles.

The big picture: Williams has been on a quest to pass Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles since winning the 2017 Australian Open. But despite reaching four finals since then, she remains stuck on 23.

  • Matching Court at this juncture seems rather unlikely for the 413th-ranked Williams.
  • Yes, but: If ever there were a place to write a storybook ending it would be the U.S. Open, where she's reached at least the semis in each of her last 11 appearances.

The bottom line: Win or lose tonight — or at any other point during this tournament — Williams' legacy is already set in stone. Now is the time to simply soak in the final moments of one of the greatest athletic careers we'll ever have the pleasure of witnessing.

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