It has been that sort of buildup to this year’s final Grand Slam tournament. There are an abundance of established and emerging players and story lines at the U.S.T.A. Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
But they are all relegated to the background for now as Williams, one of the greatest athletes of any generation, prepares to play what could be her final singles match on Monday night in the first round against the unseeded Danka Kovinic.
For Swiatek, Williams’s ability to juggle outside interests and motherhood with her tennis career have been a “great example.”
“I think it’s great that we have somebody like that in our sport who cleared the path and showed us that you can do anything,” she said. “The sky’s the limit.”
Naomi Osaka, a former No. 1 and two-time U.S. Open champion trying to recover her mojo after an unsuccessful stretch, spent more of her news conference on Friday answering questions about Williams than any other topic.
Monday night will not be the last chance to do so: Win or lose against Kovinic, Serena is entered in the women’s doubles with her older sister Venus Williams.
A quarter century later, Venus, 42, and Serena are the only women in this year’s draw who also played in the 1997 Open.
It is a moment to celebrate, an era to commemorate, and though there is no shortage of matches on Monday worth watching closely, there can be no doubt about which match is generating the biggest buzz.