NEW YORK — Olympia Ohanian turned three years old Tuesday. Her mother had to figure, fixing a day shift in Ashe Stadium. It got off to a patchy start, but by the time it had been over, the world’s most decorated tennis mother celebrated Olympia even as she hoped she would, with a first-round triumph in the U.S. Open against fellow American Kristie Ahn.
Williams, the No. 3 seed and a 23-time slam champion, has been on a search to win No. 24, which might tie her with Court, since before Olympia was born. She took the primary step with a 7-5, 6-3 conquer Ahn, 28, the world’s No. 96 player, who hung with Williams admirably sometimes in their first-ever meeting, even pushing her around somewhat and getting the simplest of variety of backcourt rallies.
But then the 38-year-old Williams elevated her play, producing the result that you simply would expect between a player with 352 slam victories and an opponent with three.
“I was really happy with how I fought for every point, no matter how I was playing,” Williams said in the on-court interview.
Williams’ next opponent is going to be Margarita Gasparyan, a 117th-ranked Russian, who celebrated her 26th birthday earlier Tuesday with a 6-3, 6-7 (7-0), 6-0 conquer Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.
Ahn, who had a scintillating run to the fourth round here last year (the only major victories in her career) showed many games for much of the match. Ahn broke Williams, owner of the foremost feared serve within the sport, within the very first game of the match, because of a pair of double faults, and held for 2-0. She broke Williams again to start out the second set, moving Williams around and playing the steadier tennis. It all came undone for Ahn within the fourth game of the second set when up 40-15 and some extent from a 3-1 lead, she double-faulted then overhit two forehands.
Williams held at love for 3-2, then broke Ahn again at 15, closing it with a crackling backhand winner down the road.
In her five prior matches since the re-start of the tour in the pandemic, Williams went to three sets in each and had considerable trouble closing things out.
“It’s been years. It’s been the ’90s since I won a match in straight sets,” Williams joked. “I love my job. At the end of the day, I love what I do. One of these days it’s going to end. I just love being out here.”
She was considerably more efficient against Ahn when she finally locked in within the middle of the second set. By the time Williams walloped her 11th ace on the way to holding at love for 5-2, you bought the sense it had been about over but the racket-tap over the net.
She passed Chris Evert with her 102nd singles win at Flushing Meadows.