What Serena short news.

 “She did things on her own terms and propelled herself to greatness, doing so in a sport that felt by design that it was off limits to Black people.”

Follow live as Serena Williams plays Danka Kovinic at the U.S. Open.

It’s hard to say what is more potent: Serena Williams’s howitzer serves, or the deep and powerful passions she provokes from fans watching those shots — particularly those who have been cast as outsiders in tennis.

Since this year’s U.S. Open is quite likely Williams’s last professional tournament, we asked readers to share personal memories of watching her play, and to tell of the emotions that she stirred. There was no shortage of submissions in which fans described their relationships to Serena, and Venus — how the sisters inspired them to watch matches, travel to tournaments and even take up the game themselves.

That relationship was particularly powerful among Black fans, who referred to Serena Williams as “family,” “our sister” and “our Wonder Woman.”

"Her story of the early years in Compton, California, with sister Venus, under the tutelage of their dad, 'King Richard,' now of movie fame, that all became part of her legend and paved the way for more young people of color to pursue what had traditionally been a white sport," Goldman said. "And she brought more people of color into the stands to watch as well."

As she prepared to take the court Monday, Williams received tributes from fellow athletes and fans, including a spot on the cover of Time magazine.

Williams has won six U.S. Open singles championships, the last in 2014. On paper, she is the overwhelming favorite on Monday night, with a 20-0 record in U.S. Open first-round matches — without dropping a set since 2001, according to the U.S. Open.

But Williams is currently ranked 605th for singles, returning to play only recently after battling injuries. Her opponent, 27-year-old Kovinic of Montenegro, is ranked 80th.

Williams has only played four matches this year, and only won one, sports commentator Howard Bryant of Meadowlark Media told Weekend Edition.

"She really is, probably for the first time in her life, an underdog" to win the U.S. Open, Bryant said. "But boy, what a magical fairy tale story if she can come to New York and pull off some magic."

After she retires from tennis, Williams will continue her pioneering ways and focus on developing a venture capital firm she formed eight years ago.

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