Serena Williams, a 23-time major champion, will play Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in the opening round of the U.S. Open, the tournament’s organisers said on Thursday. This is expected to be Williams’ farewell competition.
Williams revealed earlier this month that she would be retiring after the U.S. Open. She has won six titles in New York and will play No. 80 Kovinic for the first time.
The 27-year-old Montenegrin became the first player from her nation to win a WTA Tour title at Charleston last year after rising to a career-high ranking of No. 46 in 2016.
At the Australian Open in January, Kovinic made history for Montenegro by defeating Emma Raducanu and becoming the first person from that nation to advance past the second round of a Grand Slam.
The winner of that first match will go up against either No. 2 Anett Kontaveit or Jaqueline Cristian of Romania.
The draw’s top seed, Iga Swiatek, will play Italian Jasmine Paolini in the opening round. The winner will take on Greet Minnen of Belgium or Sloane Stephens, the 2018 champion.
Three past major champions—No. 9 seed Garbie Muguruza, No. 16 Jelena Ostapenko, and No. 21 Petra Kvitova—as well as the highest-seeded American—No. 8 Jessica Pegula—were all drawn into Swiatek’s top quarter.
Elise Mertens, a two-time quarterfinalist, and Amanda Anisimova, the no. 24 seed, were also drawn into Swiatek’s quarter.
Ostapenko’s opening matchup is against Chinese youngster Zheng Qinwen, who is 19 years old.
4th seed Lesia Tsurenko will face Paula Badosa in the first round of the draw, where she is currently in the lead. The first opponent for defending champion Emma Raducanu in Badosa’s quarter is Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.
The Frenchwoman will participate in her 63rd straight Slam, breaking the WTA player record for most consecutive Slam main-draw appearances.
Belinda Bencic, ranked No. 12 and a semifinalist in 2019, Victoria Azarenka, a three-time finalist, No. 6 seed Aryna Sabalenka, a semifinalist in 2021, and Karolina Pliskova, a finalist in 2016, are the other four seeds in Badosa’s quarter.
Naomi Osaka, a two-time champion, is also in the Badosa quarter. Osaka’s first opponent at the Australian Open will be Danielle Collins, who finished second this year. In the third round, Osaka might play Raducanu.
The No. 25 seed and defending Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina will begin against a qualifier. In the second round, the victor would take on either Venus Williams or Alison Van Uytvanck.
The hardest area of the draw is the third quarter, which is led by No. 3 seed and semifinals from last year Maria Sakkari and No. 7 seed Simona Halep, winner of Toronto.
No. 12 seed Coco Gauff, Cincinnati winner Caroline Garcia, and Cincinnati semifinals Madison Keys are all included in this quarter.
No. 2 Kontaveit and No. 5 Ons Jabeur, who will face off against Madison Brengle in the opening round, are leading the final quadrant of the draw.
Leylah Fernandez from 2021, Daria Kasatkina from San Jose, and Barbora Krejcikova from the French Open all compete in the last quarter.
(Inputs from IANS)