Once again, tonight is not the night for Serena Williams' farewell.
After eliminating World No. 80 Danka Kovinic in Monday's opening round, Williams faced a much sterner test on Wednesday against No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in what's expected to be her final US Open and professional tournament. The 23-time Grand Slam champion aced it.
Williams ground out a first-set tiebreak win, was thoroughly beaten in the second, then held on in the third for a 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-2 victory over the world's second-ranked player. If Monday was a celebration of Serena, Wednesday marked the moment a US Open swan-song run felt possible.
The first set was a taut contest, with neither player relinquishing a break through the first eight games. Williams struck first in the ninth to take a 5-4 lead with a chance to serve for the set. But Kontaveit struck back to force a tiebreak. Williams then did what she does best, scoring consecutive aces with a 5-4 lead to secure the 7-4 tiebreak and the set.
Kontaveit would not be fazed. She broke Williams to open the second set, held her first serve, then broke Williams again to take a 3-0 lead en route to a runaway win in the second set.
But Williams struck first with a break and a hold to take a 2-0 lead in the decisive set. The players then traded breaks as Williams took a 3-1 lead. She never relinquished her advantage from there as she secured the 6-2 win in the final set.
Up next, she faces a third-round match against Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, the world's 46th-ranked player. First, she'll play a doubles match with her sister Venus on Thursday against the against the Czech Republic's Linda Noskova and Lucie Hradecka.