Serena Williams on Wednesday credited Tiger Woods as one of the main reasons she was still playing tennis and had the golf great on his feet during her stunning win over world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit to reach the third round of the US Open.
Woods, like Williams considered to be the greatest of all-time in his sport, cheered her on from the stands at Flushing Meadows in what is expected to be her final tournament.
Perhaps more than any other athlete, the winner of 15 golf majors can relate to what Williams is going through as she wrestles with the idea of impending retirement while trying for one more shot at Grand Slam glory.
Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY
Woods has turned comebacks into an art form in a career spent defying the odds. In April, he made perhaps his biggest comeback when he returned to competition at the Masters just 14 months after a crash that had doctors considering the possibility of amputating his right leg.
“He’s one of the reasons I’m here, one of the main reasons I’m still playing,” said Williams after her 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-2 win over Kontaveit. “So we talked a lot. He was really trying to get me motivated.”
“There’s a few people, but we were like: ‘Okay, we can do this together, you know?’” she said.
The two sporting greats are both chasing history, Woods hunting Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors and Williams one Grand Slam shy of equalling Margaret Court’s mark of 24.
Both records seem out of reach, although Williams with her win over Kontaveit moved into the third round, where she faces Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, who eliminated Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina with a 1-6, 6-2, 7-5 victory.
Woods has already shown that anything is possible when he ended an 11-year major title drought at the 2019 Masters to claim a fifth Green Jacket.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” said Williams, who last month signalled her intention to retire. “I was just lost, so many questions.”
“When you can rely on someone like that, I mean, my goodness, he’s Tiger Woods, it was really helpful to get clarity,” she said.
Other winners in the second round of the women’s singles on Wednesday were: Ons Jabeur of Tunisia; Shelby Rogers, Alison Riske-Amritraj, Madison Keys and Coco Gauff of the US; Rebecca Marino of Canada; Veronika Kudermetova and Liudmila Samsonova of Russia; Dalma Galfi of Hungary; Caroline Garcia of France; Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia; and Wang Xiyu and Zhang Shuai of China.
Additional reporting by staff writer
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