40 year old loser Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-3, 6-3 in front of more than 23,000 fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Former world number one Williams won just one match on her full-year tour before Monday and saw her ranking drop to 605.
Serena turns for another night 💃 https://t.co/b7xDfQKIzj
– US Open tennis (@usopen) 1661822282000
That form prompted Williams to reveal that she was about to retire from the sport she played her first professional game in 1995.
“It was a tough decision,” Williams said of her decision to announce earlier this month that a “countdown” was underway for her retirement and that she was “growing up from tennis“.
That feeling of victory. #Serena https://t.co/xJ4YUdi1Fj
– US Open tennis (@usopen) 1661822538000
“I think when you’re passionate about something, it’s always hard to let go,” she says.
“I was trying to decide what to do. I love this game.
She added: “I think now is the time. I have a family and have other chapters in my life. I call it evolution.”
“It’s like Serena 2.0. I’ll still be passionate, I’ll still be intense. I’ll still be around. But I look forward to waking up and not having to run to the tennis court.”
– US Open tennis (@usopen) 1661822931000
On Monday, Williams, who arrived on the court in a diamond-encrusted black dress and jacket that sparkled in the lights, made it through an intense first game to keep serving.
The American star brought the audience to his feet with a break score for 2-0, after coming down to score the winning goal.
Kovinic, the world No. 80, has had a solid year at the Slams, reaching the third round of the Australian and French Opens.
The 27-year-old headed back with a break of his own and took the lead 3-2.
However, Williams buried the number of fouls – she committed six double fouls in the opener – leveling and then racing with the next three games to claim the first set.
Another break for 3-2 came in the second set thanks to crisp hits from the end of the field.
Simply #Serena https://t.co/VnPvTKRCP3
– US Open tennis (@usopen) 1661823232000
A game of serving love gave the American a 5-3 lead, and the final break of the night gave her the win.
She celebrated with a small move on the end line and flashed a big smile, much to the delight of the crowd, which included tennis legend Martina Navratilova, former world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and former US president Bill Clinton .
– US Open tennis (@usopen) 1661823743000
The crowd held up cards spelling out “Serena, we love you”.
Next up for Williams is a second round clash with Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday.