The opening night of the US Open is usually a relatively quiet event, but this year featured a packed Center Court match that could have been the last in Serena Williams’ legendary career.
ESPN averaged a first-day record of 1.7 million viewers for Primetime at the US Open (7 pm – 12:03 am ET) on Monday, an increase of 279% from last year and 40% more than the previous high in 2019.
After a shaky start, Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam title winner, found her old form and defeated Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-3, 6-3.
The match averaged 2.7 million viewers glued to the drama during the 1:45 match. Viewership peaked at 3.2 million in the last quarter hour (9 to 9:15 p.m. Lindsey Vonn, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Anthony Anderson, Spike Lee and Martina Navratilova.
The last big tennis tournament of the year is expected to be the 40-year-old’s likely farewell at the US Open. She first played at Flushing Meadows in 1998 and won the tournament a record six times (tied with Chrissie Evert).
Williams’ next match is tomorrow night against No.2 seed Anna Kontaveit at 7 pm ET on ESPN.