In what she has indicated will be her final U.S. Open and likely her final tournament, Serena Williams was drawn to face the unseeded Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in the opening round.
Kovinic is ranked 80th in the world, but Williams, who turns 41 on Sept. 26, is unseeded herself and ranked 608th at this late stage of her career. She has only a 1-3 record in singles since returning to the tour in June and was soundly beaten, 6-4, 6-0, by Emma Raducanu, last year’s surprise U.S. Open champion, in the opening round of the Western and Southern Open last week.
Williams and Kovinic, 27, have never played in singles on tour, but Kovinic has the weapons, including a powerful serve, to trouble Williams in the first-round match that will be played on Monday or Tuesday next week in Arthur Ashe Stadium. But there is a huge gap in achievement between the two: Williams is the greatest women’s player of this era with 23 Grand Slam singles titles and long runs at No. 1. Kovinic has yet to win a tour singles title.
If Williams, a six-time U.S. Open singles champion, were to prevail, she is likely to face No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round. Though Kontaveit is one of the top two seeds, she has struggled through much of the 2022 season.
This is a developing story and will be updated.