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Serena Williams breaks U.S. Open record on daughter’s birthday

Serena Williams

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball during her Women’s Singles first round match against Kristie Ahn of the United States on Day Two of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 1, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

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Serena Williams broke Chris Evert‘s U.S. Open match wins record with her 102nd career victory at the Grand Slam, beating countrywoman Kristie Ahn in the first round on Tuesday.

Williams, bidding for a 24th Grand Slam singles title, defeated Ahn 7-5, 6-3 in front of no ticketed fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“In a weird way I feel like every time I come here I’m being told I broke another record,” Williams said. “I don’t think I appreciate it enough, which is unfortunate. But I’m in the middle of a Grand Slam, so it’s not the time to be focused for me on records when I’m thinking about winning a tournament.”

Winning this tournament would bring more record talk -- tying Margaret Court‘s mark of 24 major singles titles. Williams has been oh-so close, losing the last two finals at both the U.S. Open and at Wimbledon since returning from childbirth.

Daughter Olympia turned 3 on Tuesday.

US OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women

Williams was up and down in tennis’ return in August, going 3-2 in all five-set matches. On Tuesday, she rallied after dropping her opening service game in each set for her first straight-set win since January’s Australian Open, where she lost in the third round.

“Gotta get my Serena focus back,” she said. “It’s been years, since the ‘90s since I won a match in straight sets.

“Just be Serena and close it out.”

She next gets 117th-ranked Russian Margarita Gasparyan and could face 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens in the third round.

Later Tuesday, older sister Venus Williams lost a U.S. Open first-round match for the first time in her record 22nd appearance. No. 20 seed Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic prevailed 6-3, 7-5.

Earlier, 2012 U.S. Open champion Andy Murray won a Grand Slam singles match for the first time in two years and since potentially career-ending hip surgery.

Murray, who was essentially given a retirement ceremony at the 2019 Australian Open, rallied past Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 4-6, 4-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-4, saving a match point in the fourth. The match lasted 4 hours, 39 minutes at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where fellow players watched from box suites that would normally be filled with VIPs.

Murray said afterward he knew of one ice bath on the grounds, for emergencies. This victory called for it.

Murray plays Canadian 20-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime in the second round.

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