Chris Evert and Serena Williams have been the most decorated players at the US Open, winning more than 200 singles matches and six titles each. Ahead of this year's US Open, two legends were tied on 101 triumphs in New York, with Serena scoring the record-breaking 102nd against Kristie Ahn in the first round on Tuesday.
Seeking the first US Open title since 2014, the beaten finalist from 2018 and 2019 toppled a compatriot 7-5, 6-3 in an hour and 21 minutes, improving her US Open score to a 102-13 after never losing in the opening two rounds at her beloved Major.
Serena had 13 aces and three double faults, dominating with her first serve but struggling on the second to suffer two breaks from three chances offered to Ahn. World no. 96 couldn't match those numbers, giving away almost half of the points in her games and allowing Serena to seize four breaks from six opportunities and seal the deal in straight sets.
Trailing an early break, Williams pulled it back in game four, saving a break point at 4-4 and securing the set with a late break in game 12. Just like in the opener, Ahn had a 2-0 advantage in set number two, losing ground after that and dropping six of the next seven games and falling 4-2 down following a double break for Serena in games four and six.
Serving for the victory, Serena held at 15 at 5-3, moving into the second round and securing an ultimate US Open record in the 24th Major crown's quest.
Serena Williams is the first player with 102 triumphs at the US Open.
"It was about getting the rhythm in the early part of the clash.
The first round is always tough for me. Kristie strikes the ball hard; she mixes up a lot and plays many different shots. You don't know what to expect. I thought her game was good to the point where I had to make sure. I was down a break at one point, so I was fighting for everything.
Weirdly, I feel like I'm being told I broke another record every time I come here. I don't think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate. I'm in the middle of a Grand Slam and it's not the time to be focused on records when I'm thinking about winning a tournament.
I felt like I wanted to be focused from the first point to the last. Despite that, I've been losing matches on literally one point that could swing it differently. I've been playing a ton of tight encounters. I felt like, all right, I just wanted to be Serena focused from the first point to the last point no matter what happens," Serena Williams said.