NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams’ first opponent in what is expected to be her last, the US Open, will be Danka Kovinic.
Win that and Williams could face No. 2 seed Anette Kontaveit of Estonia in the second round.
The US Tennis Association released the women’s and men’s singles tournament bracket on Thursday.
The game starts on Monday; On this day and on Tuesday, the matches of the first round will be held. No word yet on when Williams will take part in the competition.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who turns 41 on September 26, announced this month that she is preparing to retire from playing. She didn’t explicitly say when she planned to stop, but she did so as if the US Open would mark her goodbye.
Williams won the Flushing Meadows hard court tournament six times.
She is just 1-3 this season, having recently returned to singles after a year away following an injury in the first round at Wimbledon in 2021.
Her first return match took place at the All England Club at the end of June and she lost the first match there in a third set tiebreak to 115th placed Harmony Tan.
Kovinic, a 27-year-old athlete from Montenegro, is ranked 80th in the WTA rankings this week and comes up to 46th. Williams and Kovinich never played each other in singles.
After winning the match at the Toronto tournament, Williams was eliminated in straight sets by Tokyo Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic before losing again in straight sets in Cincinnati to reigning US Open champion Emma Radukan.
As Williams said she is preparing to wind down her tennis career, her every move will be in the spotlight as the US Open kicks off.
While Williams spent over 300 weeks at number one, her lack of activity contributed to her fall; this week she is 410th.
This meant that she would not be seeded in New York and could be placed anywhere on the field – and against any player.
Other possible opponents for Williams, if she makes it through the tournament, are No. 27 seed Martina Trevisan of Italy in the third round and 2021 US Open runner-up Leyla Fernandez of Canada, or 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic in fourth.
With her sister Venus, she could only meet in the final, because they are on opposite sides of the grid.
World No. 1 Iga Swiatek, two-time French Open champion, will face Jasmine Paolini in the first round, while Radukanu will begin his title defense against Alize Cornet.
Potential quarter-finals: Swiatek vs. No. 8 Jessica Pegula and No. 4 Paula Badosa vs. No. 6 Arina Sobolenko in the top half, and Kontaveit – or possibly Williams – against Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jaber. , and No. 3 Maria Sakkari against No. 7 Simone Halep or French Open runner-up Coco Gauff in the bottom half.
Shortly before the draw was announced, the expected news came: Novak Djokovic tweeted that he would not be in New York for the US Open.
The 35-year-old athlete from Serbia, who won 21 Grand Slam titles, has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. Foreign nationals who have not been vaccinated are prohibited from entering the United States.
In the men’s draw, defending champion Daniil Medvedev is seeded number 1, the first Grand Slam tournament since 2004 in which Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Andy Murray have not taken the seed. He will start with Stefan Kozlov from the USA.
No. 2 Nadal, whose 22 Grand Slam titles are a record for men, was scheduled to face Australian wild card holder Rinki Hijikata.
Potential men’s quarter-finals: Medvedev vs. No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 5 Kasper Ruud in a match between the last two French Open finalists, Nadal vs. No. 7 Cam. Norrie and No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 8 Hubert Gurkacz.
Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios, seeded 23rd, could face Medvedev in the fourth round. In the first round, Kyrgios will play with his Australian, good friend and doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis.
More AP information about the US Open: https://apnews.com/hub/us-open-tennis-championships and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports.