Serena Williams will set out to become just the second women to claim 24 Grand Slam titles when she begins her US Open 2020 campaign on Tuesday night.
It has been more than three years since Williams last won a Grand Slam, and she has since given birth leaving many to question whether she will reach the heights she once attained.
Without taking anything away from the US Open field, there have been several notable withdrawals which might present Williams with her best opportunity at levelling Margaret Court’s longstanding record.
Canadian Bianca Andreescu, who stunned Williams in last year’s final is one of those absentees as are World number one Ashleigh Barty and second-ranked Simona Halep.
With six US Open titles already to her name, another Flushing Meadows win for Williams would also see her become the most decorated women’s player at the tournament in the modern era.
Serena Williams is not satisfied
Williams insists that she is hungry for more Grand Slam success and won’t stop pushing herself to win until she retires.
“Obviously I’m never satisfied. That’s been the story of my career,” Williams told reporters.
“It’s like I’ll never be satisfied until I retire,” she added. “I’m never going to stop until I retire. It’s just my personality.”
The US Open is taking place at an unusual time and in unusual circumstances, and Williams said she wasn’t sure what to make of the tournament. She said it would be unusual to play at Flushing Meadow and be fresh, as well as facing the prospect of another slam, Roland Garros, being staged after the traditionally ‘final’ Grand Slam.
“Normally you feel a little more worn in, ready to get this final slam over,” said Williams. “But it’s not even the final slam any more, at least for this year. I don’t really know how to feel.”
Williams suffered a last-16 exit at the Western & Southern Open to Maria Sakkar last week and was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Top Seed Open in her first appearance on the court since the WTA Tour was suspended.
Serena Williams continues her pursuit of that record-equalling singles Grand Slam title on day two at Flushing Meadows with a first-round tie against 96th-ranked Kristie Ahn, the match will start no earlier than 20:00 SAST.
Sofia Kenin will bid for her first win of the WTA Tour resumption against 2009 US Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer.
Number nine seed Johanna Konta faces compatriot Heather Watson for the fourth time in an all-British battle.
Sakkari, fresh off the Western and Souther Open quarterfinals, will need to overcome a 0-2 head-to-head against Stefanie Voegele in the first round.
The 18th seed Donna Vekic leads Prague semifinalist Kristyna Pliskova 2-1 overall, including their only prior outdoor hardcourt meeting – a 1-6, 6-3, 7-5 epic in the second round of Kuala Lumpur 2014 en route to her maiden title.
Madison Keys has a 3-1 head-to-head lead over former doubles World No.1 Timea Babos whom she faces in the first round.
Former World Number One Kim Clijsters will play her first Grand Slam match since losing in the second round of the 2012 US Open to Laura Robson. The now unranked Belgian faces 21st seed Ekaterina Alexandrova for the first time.
Compatriots Taylor Townsend and Sachia Vickery have alternated wins in a rivalry going back to 2013, with each now holding three victories apiece. They will break their tie tonight.
The 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens has won just one match out of eight in 2020 but will bid to return to winning ways against former World Number 20 Mihaela Buzarnescu.
Lexington finalist Jil Teichmann faces Aliona Bolsova whom she defeated in a Western and Southern Open qualifier.
Former Wimbledon semifinalist Tsvetana Pironkova, who faces Ludmilla Samsonova, is one of nine mothers in the main draw alongside Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Vera Zvonareva, Kim Clijsters, Olga Govortsova, Patricia Maria Tig, Kateryna Bondarenko and Tatjana Maria, seven of whom are in action today.