Venus Williams kept her thoughts on her tennis future to herself after losing in the opening round of the US Open.
The 42-year-old is now ranked down at 1,504 and has won only one match since the Australian Open in January 2021, but she declined to say whether she will be following sister Serena into retirement after this tournament.
Broadcasters had been informed there would be a ceremony on court after Venus’ match against Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck but, after losing 6-1 7-6 (5), the American swiftly picked up her bag and headed off Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Asked about her future afterwards, the six-time grand slam singles champion said: “Right now I’m just focused on the doubles.”
The sisters will play doubles together at a grand slam for the first time since 2018 as Serena makes the most of her farewell event.
Together they have won 14 slam titles, winning every final they have contested, and Venus said: “It was Serena’s idea. She’s the boss, so I do whatever she tells me to do. We have had some great wins. It would be nice to add some more.”
Serena was honoured before and after her first-round victory over Danka Kovinic on Monday night amid an electric atmosphere.
“We’re a huge influence on each other, and I’m a huge influence on her. For me, I just kind of felt like my role is to make sure I don’t influence her in any way, and that this decision needs to be all hers and her family’s. The newest part of the family.
“I think she’s had some time to process it, and she’s doing it the way she wants to. That’s what matters most is to do things on her own terms.”
World number one Iga Swiatek swept into the second round with victory over Italian Jasmine Paolini.
“I feel like my level is just better,” said the Pole. “We’ll see if I’m going to hold on to that.”
Swiatek has been a big critic of the US Open balls – the tournament uses lighter balls for women than men – but has been trying to put that and the gruelling conditions out of her mind.
“For sure I’m closer to accepting than in the two previous tournaments, so that’s pretty nice,” she said.
“I know the conditions are tough but also just US Open being the fourth grand slam of the season, we already played for eight months. So I think that you can feel more frustration. But honestly, it’s much, much better for me, because I did hard work to really chill out.”
In the second round Swiatek faces an intriguing encounter against 2017 champion Sloane Stephens, who recovered from a poor start to beat Greet Minnen 1-6 6-3 6-3.
Fourth seed Paula Badosa also had to come from a set down to see off Lesia Tsurenko while sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka eased to a 6-1 6-3 victory over Catherine Harrison.
There was an early exit, meanwhile, for Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who spoke ahead of the tournament about not feeling like she is being treated as a grand slam winner.
The day ended with the match-up of the first round between four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka and 19th seed and Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins.
Osaka has struggled for form and fitness this year and this was another low point as she lost in the first round for the first time in New York, going down 7-6 (5) 6-3.