23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams says being passionate about what she does helped her remain motivated even as she played her first round match in an empty stadium at the US Open in New York on Tuesday. Williams, chasing her 24th Grand Slam title, scored a 7-5, 6-3 win over Kristie Ahn - her 102nd win at the US Open - breaking the tie she held with Chris Evert for the most wins by a woman in the Open era.
Serena Williams says being passionate helps her remain motivated
Speaking after her win, Williams said, "I think the hardest is making sure you stay pumped. For me it was clearly easy because I'm always overly passionate.
"I love being passionate. It's what I'm best at." "I felt like I wanted to be focused from the first point to the last. "I feel like I have been focused but I've been losing matches on literally one point that could swing a match a different way.
"I just wanted to be Serena, focused from the first point to the last point no matter what happens." This was the first time Williams won a match in straight sets since the return of the WTA Tour in early August - all her five previous matches in the events at the Top Seed Open and the Western & Southern Open in August had gone to three sets.
"It's been years, since the '90s, since I won a match in straight sets. It felt really good. I was like, 'Serena, just be Serena and close it out,' and I know I can do that, so it felt really good."
"I was really happy with how I just fought for every point, no matter how I was playing. I was like, 'OK, Serena, just gotta get my Serena focus back,' so that's what I've been trying to work on today."
The American has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles in her career so far - an Open Era record. She is aiming to tie the record for most number of Slams by any player in singles history - currently held by Australia's Margaret Court - who won 24 Grand Slams, but several of them coming prior to the Open Era.
Serena Williams will next meet Russian Margarita Gasparyan, ranked No. 117 in the world, who scored a 6-3, 6-7 (7-0), 6-0 win over Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.