Four-year-old Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr wore white beads on her braided hair – like Williams did when she made her tennis debut at the 1999 US Open – while watching her mother play what will likely be her final singles tournament.
The 40-year-old icon announced her retirement from tennis earlier this month, in a first-person essay published byVogue.
Olympia was seated in Williams’ player box with her father and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian for the match in New York. Her outfit matched her mother’s on-court attire as well – she was dressed in the same black, sparkly Nike dress as Williams was wearing for her first round match against Montengro’s Danka Kovinic.
Williams defeated Kovinic in two sets and will now play in the tournament’s second round on Wednesday (31 August) against second seed Anett Kontveit of Estonia, She also plans to play in the doubles competition with sister Venus.
After a video narrated by Oprah Winfrey, Serena was interviewed on the court by journalist Gayle King.
“I feel so comfortable on this court and everyone here, I just want to do my best and that is all I can do. The crowd was crazy, they really helped pull me through,” Williams told King.
Following the historic match, Williams’ husband Alexis Ohanian took to Instagram to share footage of their daughter’s unphased reaction to her mother playing at the US Open. “Babygirl unphased. Dad losing it. As usual,” he captioned the post.
In the clip, the Reddit co-founder is seen watching an intense volley between Williams and Kontveit when his wife suddenly scores a point. The crowd goes wild, including Ohanian, but their daughter Olympia’s expression remains unchanged.
In an interview with Vogue, the 23-time grand slam champion and one of the greatest players in tennis history, revealed she was “evolving away from tennis”.
In the essay, published on 9 August, Williams said: “I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
Speaking about her appearance at the US Open, which is the final grand slam tournament of the year, Williams said: “I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst.”
She also said the decision to step away from tennis has been made reluctantly, adding: “It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads.”