Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion who entered the tournament unseeded, defeated Kontaveit, the No. 2 seed out of Estonia, 2 sets to 1 in what Williams has said will be her final tournament before she plans to “move on” from tennis.
“I’m a pretty good player,” Williams said in the post-game interview after she was asked how she won. “This is what I do best. I love a challenge, I love rising to the challenge.”
Williams won the first set, 7-6, as she drilled an ace that sent the crowd bursting into cheers to win a 7-4 tiebreak.
She relied on her powerful serve, racking up five aces and facing only one break point in the first four service games.
Kontaveit then broke Williams on a double fault to tie the set at 5-5.
In the second set, Kontaveit stormed back to jump out to a 3-0 lead, including a comeback after Williams held a 40-0 lead in the third game.
Williams’ serve continued to be a strong point, as she delivered 10 aces, but also came back to bite her as a double fault left her down 4-1.
Ultimately, Kontaveit breezed to a 6-2 win.
Williams won the final set 6-2 as she cut down on mistakes that plagued her in the first two sets and jumped out to a 3-1 lead.
She was then able to capitalize on a 40-0 lead, after her earlier blunder to go up 4-1 before closing out the set.
Williams’ tournament run began Monday when she beat Danka Kovinic in straight sets.
Both matches were characterized by crowds of fans, including celebrities, loudly cheering on Williams with the chair umpire interrupting the cheers on Wednesday night.
“Please, ladies and gentlemen,” she said while attempting to calm the crowd.
Pro golfer Tiger Woods joined Williams’ sister, Venus, in her player box and pumped his fist in celebration of her first set win.
The Williams sisters will begin their doubles run on Thursday, playing together for the first time since Wimbledon in 2016.
Following Wednesday’s victory, Williams will face off against Aja Tomljanovic of Australia in the next round afer she defeated Evgeniya Rodina of Russia in three sets. Williams and Tomljanovic have never played before.
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