Serena puts US Open rivals on notice


Serena Williams was not about to let Maria Sharapova make a match of their US Open first-round showdown in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

In her first match at Flushing Meadows since last year’s loss in a chaotic, controversial final, Williams stretched her winning streak against Sharapova to 19 matches with a near-flawless 6-1 6-1 performance devoid of drama.

Asked whether she could even imagine losing that many matches in a row across 15 years against one opponent, Williams paused for a moment, then replied: “Gosh, I never thought about it like that.”

She now leads her head-to-head series with Sharapova 20-2.

“Every time I come up against her,” Williams said, “I just bring out some of my best tennis.”

This match lasted just 59 minutes as Williams won twice as many points, 56-28. She saved all five break points she faced and broke Sharapova five times.

“I always said her ball somehow lands in my strike zone,” Williams said. “I don’t know. It’s just perfect for me.”

Few players would have stood a chance against Williams as she began her bid for a record-tying 24th grand slam title by dispatching the now world No.87 Sharapova in their first meeting at the year’s final major.

“You don’t understand how much this means to me,” Williams said in her on-court interview.

“I am going against a player who’s won five grand slams. She is such a good player, you have to be super focused. It was a fun match.”

Williams arrived at the US Open, where she’s won six titles, accompanied by questions about her back but that didn’t seem to be an issue on Monday night.

“The body’s good. I feel good,” Williams said.

“My back’s a lot better. So I’m excited. This is going to be fun.”

Only once before had Sharapova lost a night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium, she is now 22-2.

“You can write me off. There are many people that can write me off… As long as it’s not the person that’s inside of you, you’ll be OK,” the Russian, who has again battled shoulder injuries, said.