NEW YORK – Serena Williams’ first opponent at what should be the last tournament of her career, the US Open, will be Danka Kovinic.
Win that, and Williams could face the No. 2 seed Anet Kontaveit of Estonia in the second round.
The brackets for the women’s and men’s singles events were released Thursday by the American Tennis Association.
The game starts on Monday; the first round matches will take place on that day and on Tuesday. There was no immediate word on when Williams will participate.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who turns 41 on September 26, announced this month that she is preparing to retire from her playing career. She didn’t explicitly say when she planned to quit, but she gave the impression that the US Open would mark her farewell.
Williams has won the Flushing Meadows hard court tournament six times.
She is just 1-3 this season, having recently returned to singles play after a year out following a first-round injury exit at Wimbledon in 2021.
Her first match back was at the All England Club in late June, and she lost her first game there in a third-set tiebreaker against No. 115. Harmony Tan.
Kovinic is a 27-year-old Montenegrin who is 80th in the WTA rankings this week and has reached 46th place. Williams and Kovinic have never faced each other in singles.
After winning a match at a tournament in Toronto, Williams was knocked out in straight sets there by the Tokyo Olympics gold medalist. Belinda Bencicthen lost again in straight sets in Cincinnati to the defending US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
Because Williams has said she is preparing to end her tennis career, her every move will be front and center as the US Open begins.
While Williams spent over 300 weeks at No. 1, her lack of activity contributed to a slump; she is 410th this week.
That meant she wouldn’t be seeded in New York and could have been placed anywhere on the court – and against any player.
Williams’ other possible opponents, if she progresses in the tournament, include the No. 27 seed Martina Trevisan of Italy in the third round and finalist of the US Open 2021 Leylah Fernandez of Canada or champion of Roland-Garros 2021 Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic in fourth.
She could only face her sister Venus in the final because they are on either side of the support.
Potential quarter-finalists are Swiatek vs No. 8 Jessica Pegulaand no. 4 Paula Badosa against #6 Aryna Sabalenka in the top half of the field, and Kontaveit – or, perhaps, Serena Williams – against Wimbledon runner-up Our Jaberand no. 3 Maria Sakkari vs #7 Simona Halep or Roland-Garros finalist Coco Gauff on the lower half.
Shortly before the announcement of the draw, some expected news arrived: Novak Djokovic tweeted that he would not be in New York for the US Open.
The 35-year-old Serbian, who has 21 Grand Slam titles, is not vaccinated against COVID-19. Foreign citizens who have not received the vaccine are not permitted to enter the United States.
In the men’s draw, defending champion Daniel Medvedev is the No. 1 seed – the first Grand Slam event since 2004 in which Djokovic, Raphael Nadal, Roger Federer Where Andy Murray did not occupy this place. He will begin by assuming Stefan Kozlov the United States. No 2 Nadal, whose 22 Grand Slam titles are a record for a man, has been drawn to face the Australian wild card recipient Rinky Hijikata.
Potential men’s quarter-finals are Medvedev vs No. 6 Happy Auger-AlsoNumber 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas against #5 Casper Ruud in what would be a clash between the last two French Open finalists, Nadal against the No. 7 Cam Norrieand no. 3 Carlos Alcaraz against #8 Hubert Hurkacz.