Serena and Venus Williams (160368)
Credit: Margot Johnson

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was in attendance for the opening night ceremony on day one of the U.S. Open. Other celebrities joining the crowd at a soldout Arthur Ashe Stadium included Alec Baldwin and his wife, Anna Wintour of Vogue magazine and Martha Stewart. Vanessa Williams sang the National Anthem.

Grammy Award winner and R&B artist Ciara and songwriter and actor Josh Groban performed at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center.

The tennis action began when Serena Williams walked onto center court to begin her journey to lasting fame in pursuit of a tennis Grand Slam. She wasted no time dispensing Victoria Diatchenko of Russia, ranked 86th in the world. After defeating Diatchenko in a match that had zero suspense (36, 64, 62), “Lady Slam” showed her tender side by comforting her opponent, who showed no fight, which is unusual in tennis.

Williams holds a record of 36 Grand Slams titles, 21 in singles, 13 in women doubles and two in mixed doubles. She said she didn’t feel pressure. If Williams wins the U.S. Open, she would be the first since Steffi Graf,

who won the U.S. Open in 1988, to win 22 Grand Slam titles, just two shy of Margaret Court of Australia, who has 24.

Williams appeared to be very relaxed and upbeat as she swiftly moved through the first set without drop-

ping a game. Unfortunately, Diatchenko had to withdraw in the second set because of an injury. At the beginning of the match, she did not appear to be injured at all.

In an on-court interview, Williams said the she was

very proud of Diatchenko for coming out although she was injured. She also said, “No matter what hap- pens, I am home where it all began in 1999.” She also thanked the fans for hang- ing in there and support- ing her.