Host Andy Taylor | The Voice of the US Open | Photo: Daniel Shirey / USTA
 Serena Williams -26- (USA) def Carina Witthöft -101- (GER) | 62 62
This time last year, 6-time US Open Champion Serena Williams nearly died after becoming a mom for the first time. Win or lose, everything else is gravy.
That said, it would be easy to excuse a slow climb back into the saddle. But there’s no need. The woman is supernatural. After 14 months away, and suffering an NDE – Serena returned to the sport this Spring at Indian Wells and immediately won the first two matches of her comeback. Four months later, she reached her 30th career championship match at a Major, falling to Grand Slam nemesis Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon Final. Beyond extraordinary.
Therefore, it is no surprise that Serena is among the favorites to lift the trophy for a 7th time here in New York. Only one other Open Era player owns as many US Open titles: Chris Evert.
Meanwhile, Germany’s Carina Witthöft enjoyed some “life firsts” of her own this past year. Last October in Luxembourg, she defeated Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig to capture her debut WTA Singles title. In January, she reached a career-high ranking of World #48. She took out a top-15 Julia Georges in Miami…
Wednesday night was a huge opportunity. But perhaps too daunting for the German, considering the opponent in her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut…
ROAD TO ROUND-2: Serena Williams
R1: def. Magda Linette -68- (POL) 64 60 | Arthur Ashe Stadium
In Serena’s opening match, she completely overwhelmed Magda Linette. It was a tough ask for the Polish veteran. Like Witthöft, it was her first match on Ashe and immediately followed a blockbuster opening ceremony featuring Kelly Clarkson. Linette held her ground in the first, but was back home in Poznan before the start of the second.
ROAD TO ROUND-2: Carina Witthöft
R1: def. Caroline Dolehide -119- (USA) 63 76(6) | Court 5
Carina, on the other hand, faced a more dynamic challenge on Monday. Up against Caroline Dolehide, Witthöft blasted through the first set in 30-minutes – then traded breaks with the American in set-2, before earning the win, 8-6 in a tiebreak.
Serena makes quick work of Witthöft to spend time with Olympia
Today, Serena’s biggest concern had nothing to do with forehands and backhands. Her stiffest challenge came this morning while trying to prevent daughter Olympia from eating soap.
In two identical sets, Serena dismantled Witthöft. Even when Carina started landing her best, high-risk ground strokes toward the end of the match. To sum it up concisely: Witthöft earned two holds at the start of both sets. But those were the only games she’d win.
NEXT:  Serena Williams -26- (USA) vs  Venus Williams -16- (USA)
Serena will face sister Venus Williams in Round-3. Venus’ Open so far:
R2: def. Camila Giorgi -40- (ITA) 64 75 | Louis Armstrong Stadium
R1: def. [W] Svetlana Kuznetsova -102- (RUS) 63 57 63 | Arthur Ashe Stadium
After her win over Camila Giorgi, Venus Williams told fans in Armstrong that her last Grand Slam match versus Serena was unfair (2017 Australian Open Final) because it was 2 against 1. Cute. Back in March, Venus was the one who ended Serena’s comeback run at Indian Wells in the 3rd-Round.
On Friday, the two will compete for the 30th time. It will be the 16th time they’ve shared the court at a Major, nine of which have been Grand Slam Finals. In 2002 and 2003, the rest of the field couldn’t touch them. They met in four consecutive Major championship matches between 2002’s French Open and 2003’s Australian Open.
Friday’s 3rd-Round clash will be their 6th in Arthur Ashe Stadium. During the 2001 US Open – in their first Grand Slam Final together – Venus captured her second US Open title. A year later, Serena emerged the victor, winning her second US Open.
As partners, they own 2 US Open Doubles titles, 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles overall, 3 Olympic Gold Medals, and are Fed Cup Champions. Legacy.
Friday’s match will be special indeed.
 Serena Williams -26- (USA)
In 1999, at just 17-years-old, she won her first Grand Slam Singles title right here in Arthur Ashe Stadium, defeating World #1 Martina Hingis in straight-sets. 19-years later, she owns the career Grand Slam and 23 Grand Slam Singles titles overall – the most of any active player in the Open Era. Include her doubles success with sister Venus – plus two Mixed Doubles titles – and she is a 39-time Grand Slam Champion. She owns 4 Olympic Gold Medals, is a Fed Cup Champion; and last September – became a Mom for the first time. From Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – Please welcome 6-time US Open Champion…Serena Williams..
Carina Witthöft -101- (GER)
This 23-year-old won her first WTA Singles title last October in Luxembourg, and ended the year ranked inside the top-50 for the first time. She owns 11 ITF Women’s Circuit Singles titles, has reached the 3rd-Round of all four Majors; and in March, earned her first career win over a top-15 player, defeating World #13 Julia Georges in Miami. Competing in her 4th US Open, and making her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut – From Germany, please welcome Carina Witthöft.