The Associated PressNEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams flubbed yet another shot and wailed, “I keep missing my forehand!”
She was in trouble, if only briefly, against 17-year-old American Caty McNally, who is friends, and doubles partners, with Coco Gauff.
Making key adjustments to her serve and straightening out her other strokes, Williams avoided what would have been her earliest loss in 19 appearances at the U.S. Open, coming back to beat McNally 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 in a match that ended as Wednesday turned to Thursday.
“You can’t win tournaments making that many errors,” Williams said. “I knew I had to play better, and I knew I could.”
And so she did.
“Obviously, she’s going to pick up her level. I knew that was going to happen,” McNally said. “Next time, I just have to raise my level with hers.”
Williams improved to 38-0 in the first two rounds at Flushing Meadows. The only time she was beaten as early as even the third round in New York was in her tournament debut back in 1998 — when she was just 16 herself.
The following year, Williams won the first of her six U.S. Open championships. McNally hadn’t even been born yet.
Now 37, Williams owns 23 Grand Slam singles titles and she showed off why in taking 16 of the final set’s initial 17 points.