Serena Williams' career isn't over quite yet.
The six-time U.S. Open champion started her quest for a seventh with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Danka Kovinić in the opening round of the 2022 edition on Monday.
This was the first-ever match between Williams and Kovinić, and it was difficult to script a situation where one player overshadowed the other by such a wide margin.
Not only does the American have 73 career singles titles to Kovinić's zero, but the actual tennis has taken something of a backseat to one of the biggest storylines of the entire sports world at this year's U.S. Open.
Earlier this month, Williams announced her legendary career was coming to an end following the year's final Grand Slam.
"It's the hardest thing that I could ever imagine," she wrote. "I don't want it to be over, but at the same time I'm ready for what's next."
Her greatness goes beyond tennis, as she is one of the most accomplished athletes in sports history and on a short list of all-time legends such as Tiger, Michael and LeBron, who are instantly known by a single name.
Ticket prices skyrocketed after her announcement when fans realized this year's U.S. Open would be their final chance to see her compete. The 23-time Grand Slam champion has always been a fan favorite in New York, and that was on full display from the opening moments Monday when the crowd gave an extended and rousing ovation during a pre-match introduction that deemed her the greatest of all time.
Frankly, Monday wasn't really about an individual tennis match. No single point stood out more than the overall atmosphere of celebration, nervous energy and, ultimately, appreciation for historic greatness.
But it was clear the crowd was there to watch Williams win, and the first set was defined by her ability to overcome some early adversity.
She battled through five double-faults, back-to-back lost-service games and the pressure of the moment to escape the first set with a 6-3 win. There were times when the opening set was more a question of who would find their serve instead of who would break, and Williams finally did as Kovinić grew visibly frustrated and threw up her arms after multiple points.
It was clear by the second set that Williams was in complete control.
The aces started to come in bunches, and a break to go up 3-2 made a second-round appearance feel inevitable. She clinched that appearance with yet another break on Kovinić's final serve.
In all, she finished with nine aces and won 77 percent of her first-service points, per the U.S. Open's official website. All she needed was the timely break with her serve dialed in after a slow start, and there were even some vintage Serena shots that showed up as she put the finishing touches on the victory.
Things will get a bit more challenging in the second round for Williams with a matchup against second-seeded Anett Kontaveit.