On her 18th visit to the place where she has won six of her 23 majors, Serena Williams took a little over an hour to crush Magda Linette, the 26-year-old Pole who has earned less in her whole career than the American has in just 16 matches this comeback year alone.
If Williams can build on her 6-4, 6-0 win on a sultry night on Arthur Ashe and capitalise on the earlier shock defeat of Simona Halep in her corner of the draw, she has every chance of doubling her season’s earnings of $1.9m.
Bumped up to 17th seed from her world ranking of 26 because of her pedigree and record, Williams looked relaxed, fitter than recently and ready to contend. Her serve was grooved and she hit off the ground with her customary menace. She even threw in a rare drop-shot before serving out the match with her sixth ace. Her movement was better than when she reached the Wimbledon final this year, assured rather than electric.
She said courtside, “It’s just a good feeling to be back out here. The first set was tight, not the easiest. Once I got settled I started to doing what I tried to do in practice. I think I’m getting there. I’ve been training so hard. This momma was a little emotional today.”