Sports Host Andy Taylor | The Voice of the US Open | Photo: @USOpen
 Serena Williams (USA) def Magda Linette (POL) | 64 60
After 14-months away from the game, Serena Williams returned from “maternity leave” this March at Indian Wells, defeating Zarina Diyas -53- and Kiki Bertens -29- in her first two matches since winning the 2017 Australian Open.
She’d lose the next two, falling to sister Venus in the 3rd Round at Indian Wells and to Naomi Osaka in Miami’s 1st-Round. At Roland Garros, she suffered a pectoral injury and withdrew before her Round of 16 clash with Maria Sharapova.
Then, last month at Wimbledon, she hurtled through the draw to reach her 30th career Grand Slam Singles Final. Though she lost in straight-sets to Kerber – a Major championship-match appearance in just her fourth month back on Tour is nothing short of remarkable. Side note: Serena is now 1-2 against Angelique in Grand Slam Finals.
After an uninspired 16 06 loss in San Jose to Jo Konta -48-, and Cincinnati’s deciding-set 36 62 36 stumble against Petra Kvitova -06-, Serena is finally back in New York – where she’s lifted the trophy SIX times in EIGHT Finals. Only one other Open Era player owns as many US Open titles: Chris Evert.
Serena’s first US Open match since 2016’s Semifinal loss to Pliskova
Poland’s Magda Linette had few answers for Serena. Not only was she facing one of the greatest athletes in the modern era, Monday marked her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut – immediately following a marquee performance from Grammy winner Kelly Clarkson. With all of the distraction and intimidation of the moment, it’s impressive the World #68 was able to manage three holds to start the match.
As to be expected, 30-minutes in – at 3-all in the first – the fog of Serena’s distinction, confidence and experience enveloped Linette’s feel for the ball. At the first whiff of doubt, Serena scored her first break and allowed Magda only a single service game the rest of the way.
NEXT: Carina Witthöft -101- (GER)
In Round-2, Serena Williams faces Germany’s Carina Witthöft, who defeated American Caroline Dolehide earlier in the day. Like Linette, it will be Carina’s first shot at the 6-time US Open Champion, and first appearance in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Last October in Luxembourg, Witthöft defeated Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig to capture her debut WTA Singles title. In January, just prior to Sydney, she reached a career-high ranking of World #48. However, the career firsts haven’t translated to season-long success. Her biggest win this year came in Miami’s 2nd-Round, where she defeated World #13 Julia Georges. She then fell in Round-3 to Zarina Diyas, losing 0-6 in a deciding set.
Witthöft reached Round-3 of the US Open two-years-ago, but considering Wednesday’s obstacle, a 3rd-Round run this year looks highly unlikely.
 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 with 23 Major Singles titles overall – the most of any active player, male or female. 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. As we celebrate 50-years of champions, she has captured more US Open titles than any other current player. From Palm Beach Gardens, Florida – Please welcome 6-time US Open Champion, Serena Williams.
Magda Linette -68- (POL)
3-years-ago, this 26-year-old won her first Grand Slam main draw match right here, at the 2015 US Open. Since then, she’s reached the 3rd-round of both the Australian Open and Roland Garros; and back in February, climbed to a career-high ranking of #55 in the World. She owns 1 WTA-125K Series Singles title, 10 ITF Women’s Circuit Singles titles; and two months ago, reached her 3rd career WTA Singles Final in Bol, Croatia. Making her Arthur Ashe Stadium debut – From Poland, please welcome, Magda Linette.