Williams on the home stretch to calendar year Grand Slam
SHE already has the second-most major titles in the modern era, and tonight Serena Williams will begin her quest to become the first player since Steffi Graf in 1988 to win a calendar year Grand Slam when the US Open begins at Flushing Meadows.
The 33-year-old American is on a 28-match Grand Slam winning streak, her last loss coming against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet in the third round at Wimbledon in 2014. Since then, Williams (pictured) has gone on to claim the US Open, Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon, her second 'Serena Slam'.
She is also on a 21-match unbeaten run at her home Grand Slam tournament, Australia's Sam Stosur inflicting her last defeat in the 2011 final.
Apart from the ongoing dissection of Aussie 'Superbrat' Nick Kyrgios's recent behaviour, the opportunity for Williams to secure a Grand Slam has been the talk of New York.
For the first time in history, tickets to the women's final sold out faster than the men's.
Not only that, the average resale price for a ticket to the women's final has jumped to nearly $A1200, almost on a par with the price of a seat at the men's decider. The previous smallest difference between the prices was about $200 back in 2012.
And it seems fans aren't the only ones keen to see history in the making.
After being beaten by Williams in straight sets in the final of the recent Cincinnati Open, No.2 seed Simona Halep said she hoped her rival could complete the Slam - provided she wasn't in the final herself of course.
And the man who won the men's final in Cincinnati, Roger Federer, said he hoped Williams could complete a feat neither he nor world No.1 Novak Djokovic had achieved.
"You don't get this opportunity many times in your career or in tennis, for that matter," Federer said.
Williams will begin her campaign against unseeded Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, and if the draw goes as planned, would meet another Russian, world No.3 Maria Sharapova, in the semi-finals.
Sharapova also begins her quest for a sixth Grand Slam title, and second US Open crown after she triumphed in 2006, in the first round tonight when she takes on Australian Daria Gavrilova.
Casey Dellacqua is the other Aussie woman in the top half of the women's draw, and she has drawn little-known Estonian Anett Kontaveit.
Three Australian men will be in action tonight, including qualifier Matt Ebden who comes up against No.17 seed Grigor Dimitrov.
Big-serving Sam Groth will play Ukrainian Alexandr Dolgopolov and John Millman has drawn fellow Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU