Serena Williams began her quest for a 24th Grand Slam singles crown by crushing five-time major winner Maria Sharapova 6-1, 6-1 Monday to reach the second round of the US Open.
Williams needed only 59 minutes to rout her Russian rival, improving to 20-2 all-time against Sharapova with her 19th consecutive victory in the rivalry.
Eighth-seeded Williams, who next plays 121st-ranked US wildcard Caty McNally, blasted five aces and 16 winners while Sharapova made 20 unforced errors in the loss at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
The 37-year-old American, seeking her seventh US Open title, is chasing the all-time record of 24 Slam singles titles won by Margaret Court.
Sharapova, the 2006 US Open winner who defeated Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final, upset Simona Halep in the first round two years ago but could not revive that magic in the showcase opening-night match in the year’s final Grand Slam tournament.
Williams said that once she learned she would face Sharapova in her first match, “every practice after that was super focused and super intense.
“She’s such a good player. When you play her you have to be super focused. Whenever I play her I bring out some of my best tennis.”