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Solid start at US Open for Serena Williams, who couldn’t wait to go see her daughter

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Sandra Harwitt, Special to USA TODAY Sports
Published 11:27 p.m. ET Aug. 27, 2018 | Updated 11:29 p.m. ET Aug. 27, 2018



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USA TODAY

NEW YORK — Each Grand Slam comes with its own pluses and minuses, and the US Open is no exception to that reality.

One of the hardest aspects of this tournament is that the venue is in the borough of Queens and the hotel accommodations are in Manhattan. Traffic or no traffic, getting to where the matches are played is not a quick trip around the corner.

In contrast, at the three other Grand Slams — the Australian Open, the French Open and Wimbledon — players tend to stay in either nearby hotels or short-term apartment rentals closer to the courts.

“Today was a weird day for me,” Serena Williams said on the court Monday night after winning her first-round match 6-4, 6-0 against Magda Linette of Poland. “I left my hotel and didn’t get to say goodbye to (daughter) Olympia, but I get to go back now and see her.”

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She continued the thought later in the media conference, saying, “It’s different because it’s a much further ride away obviously. I have to take an extra two hours in transit that I’m not going to see her.”

A six-time U.S. Open champion, the 36-year-old Williams is without a doubt in the market to win a seventh trophy here this year. At the moment, Williams is tied with Chris Evert for the most US Open crowns won in the Open era.

More important, however, if Williams can lay claim to the US Open title she would tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Unlike Court, all of Williams’ major trophies have been won in the more high-stakes environment of professional tennis.

The win against Linette improves Williams’ record to 18-0 in US Open first-round matches. Earlier Monday, older sister, Venus, 38, enhanced her US Open first-round record to 20-0 with a three-set win against Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Serena started the match a bit tentatively, but it didn’t take her long to find her groove. She never faced a break point on her own serve and took advantage of four of six break points Linette offered.

“I thought it was a good match,” Williams said. “It was a great first-round match. Magda, she’s such a fighter. She’s a very hard worker. I’ve seen her at Patrick’s (Mouratoglou’s) academy a few times, so I kind of knew what to expect tonight. It was a little bit of a relief to know what to expect.

“I think overall I had a little shaky start, but I got into it,” she added.

All the talk around these parts is that the Williams sisters are now just one match away from facing each other in the third round. But before that can happen both need to win their second-round encounters.

Serena will play Carina Witthoeft of Germany in the second-round. Witthoeft defeated American Caroline Dolehide 6-3, 7-6 (6) to earn her place in the next round. Venus is set to play Camila Giorgi of Italy, who posted a 6-4, 6-1 win over American wildcard recipient Whitney Osuigwe.

Serena’s reaction to another all-sister outing was simple: “Just got to play, hopefully get there.”

Venus was a bit more verbose in addressing the possible third-round encounter, saying, “Yeah, that’s the draw. I mean, I’ve had an interesting draw. Obviously, the next match, my opponent is not going to roll over, as well as today. That’s really my focus. Hopefully we’ll both be there.”

If that Williams sisters match does become an actuality it will be Friday.

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