Flushing Meadows, New York – Women’s top seed and defending champion Serena Williams came to the Open this year suffering a serious lack of match play, a troublesome shoulder drastically limiting her court time since the 34-year-old captured her 22nd career major at Wimbledon in July. Since then, she’d played just three matches before walking onto Ashe Monday night for her first-round encounter with Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova. But if there was any rust on the champ, it certainly wasn’t evident under the lights, as Williams served 12 aces against just one double fault, winning 90 percent of her first-serve points in mauling Makarova, 6-3, 6-3.
The top seed is again the top story of this Flushing fortnight, looking to win her 23rd career Slam crown here, which would break the tie for most in the Open era that she now shares with Steffi Graf. In her second round matchup, Williams will try to edge closer to history against fellow American Vania King, a 27-year-old wild card who’s been dealt a particularly tough hand. King has twice been as far as the third round here, but since 2012, she’s won just one match in Flushing. Her only career meeting with the game’s No. 1—ironically also in the second round here in 2014—resulted in a thorough 6-1, 6-0 thumping. King may win more games tonight, but it’s impossible to fathom any way in which she can win this match. In two, the No. 1 moves on, as the gap between Williams and history narrows.