Even the oddsmakers are starting to believe in Serena Williams.
After the 23-time Grand Slam winner opened the 2022 U.S. Open at 50-1 odds, she's dropped all the way to 14-1 after her victory over second-seeded Anett Kontaveit.
"It's extremely unique to have such a sports icon at long odds you would never have gotten in their prime," Caesars Sportsbook vice president of trading Craig Mucklow told ESPN's Doug Kezirian. "This is a great story, and the longer the run continues, the more action we'll see backing Serena, for sure."
Williams entered her second-round match as a heavy underdog but looked spry as she earned a 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 win over Kontaveit, who entered Flushing Meadows as the world No. 2. She will face off against Ajla Tomljanović in the third round and opened as a -170 favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook.
The 40-year-old great announced her pending retirement from tennis in a first-person essay published in Vogue. While Williams admitted she didn't want to walk away from tennis—she noted she would never have to make such a choice if she were a man—her desire to expand her family has taken priority over her dreams on the court.
"I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don't think it’s fair," Williams wrote. "If I were a guy, I wouldn't be writing this because I'd be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. Maybe I'd be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity."
Williams had largely looked like a shell of her past self in three tournaments before the U.S. Open. She was ousted in the first round at Wimbledon and the Western & Southern Open; her only win this year before this week came against Nuria Párrizas Díaz, the No. 62 player in the world.
Tomljanović has never faced Williams in a head-to-head matchup.