Serena Williams has started her campaign at the 2019 U.S Open on a bright note as she thrashed her long-time rival, Maria Sharapova, 6-1 6-1, in less than an hour to book her place in the second round.
The victory for Serena gives her a perfect return to Flushing Meadows where she was last year enmeshed in a controversial final with Naomi Osaka.
Twelve months ago, Williams called the umpire “a cheat” and “a liar” during her loss to Osaka.
But the mood for the 37-year old Serena was rather different this time as she extended her dominance over Sharapova; beating the 32-year-old Russian for the 19th time in a row.
Eighth seed Williams, who is bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title and a first since returning from giving birth two years ago, broke Sharapova’s serve five times as she eased into a second-round meeting with fellow American, Catherine McNally.
When asked about the decision not to allow Portuguese umpire Carlos Ramos to officiate her matches in New York following their infamous row, Williams said: “I do not know who that is.”
From the moment Williams and Sharapova were drawn against each other on Thursday, the latest meeting between two of the biggest names in the sport was the main talking point of the first round at Flushing Meadows
Serena and Sharapova have had a frosty relationship since they first met on court in 2003 but the American has shown she is miles ahead with her emphatic head-to-head record.
“Obviously, I’m going against a player that has won five Grand Slams and been in the final of many more and that’s not easy,” said Williams on-court after her victory. “So every practice after that was super intense.”
On her part, Sharapova suggested her defeat was aided by her ‘fitness issues’. She insisted she would keep going on.
“It’s not an easy road. It’s never been,” Sharapova said. “But I went through a shoulder procedure about four months ago. To find myself playing at a night match at the US Open with people excited about the matchup, it’s a pretty big deal. I’m fortunate to be a part of that.”
“It’s easy to be discouraged after a match like this. But if I’m personally discouraged, I wake up tomorrow, I don’t feel like I want to go out, train, be better, that’s more discouraging than the result.”
WATCH: Governor Yahaya Bello's Roadmap to Hope 2023