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Serena Williams triumphs against Anett Kontaveit in second U.S. Open match

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Serena Williams is not acting like someone ready to retire. She won another match at the U.S. Open. She has suggested the Open would be her last, as she evolves away from tennis. But NPR's Tom Goldman reports she does not look like she's done.

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: This is getting interesting. The tennis-slash-entertainment world keeps saying goodbye to Serena Williams. For a second time last night, tributes and celebrities filled Arthur Ashe Stadium, and for a second time, Williams essentially said thanks, but save your goodbyes.

(SOUNDBITE OF GRUNTING, CHEERING)

GOLDMAN: With a final thunderous return-of-serve winner, Williams beat No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia and booked a reservation in the next round. It was the end of a dramatic three-set win. The first was a taut slugfest Williams won in a tie breaker. Kontaveit easily won the second set, 6 -2, after which Williams retreated to the locker room. Later, she was asked, what'd she do in there? A self-pep talk? Meditation? No, Williams said, nothing that lofty - just a potty break.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SERENA WILLIAMS: I just got lighter (laughter). Use your imagination. But it wasn't No. 2, so...

(LAUGHTER)

GOLDMAN: Yes, TMI from the world's athlete of the moment. But the break worked, and Williams won 6-2. Kontaveit played well but said Williams was just better, especially in the final set. And Williams' home stadium advantage, with thousands on her side - Kontaveit said it was something she'd never experienced.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ANETT KONTAVEIT: You can expect something, and I saw it from the previous match, but when you're on the court, it's - it was hard.

GOLDMAN: Williams now has played two good and, she says, satisfying matches after struggling since coming back from a yearlong injury layoff.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WILLIAMS: I've been practicing really well, but it hasn't been coming together in matches. Now it's kind of coming together, I guess.

GOLDMAN: Ominous words for Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic, the next opponent up. Hopeful words for all those fans trying to say goodbye to someone who refuses to leave.

Tom Goldman, NPR News, New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: September 1, 2022 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of the headline and summary misspelled Anett Kontaveit 's name as Annet Knotaveit.
Tom Goldman is NPR's sports correspondent. His reports can be heard throughout NPR's news programming, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and on NPR.org.