NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams turned to Tiger Woods for his input before she made her recent comeback from a year-long injury absence. On Wednesday night, Woods sat courtside at the U.S. Open, throwing uppercuts in the stands to cheer Williams on to victory.
“He’s one of the reasons I’m here,” Williams said after beating No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2 to reach the third round at Flushing Meadows in what could be the last tournament of her career. “One of the main reasons I’m still playing.”
Woods was in Williams’ guest box at sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium, two seats over from her sister, Venus.
When Woods was shown on the overhead video screens during a break between games, he received a warm welcome from the crowd and tugged at the brim of his cap to acknowledge the applause.
After the match, Woods tweeted: “It was a privilege to watch greatness. Congrats @serenawilliams”
Three weeks ago, 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams announced she was getting ready to walk away from her playing days via an essay in Vogue magazine. In the piece, she said she approached Woods — the owner of 15 golf majors who returned to action after badly damaging his leg in a car crash— for advice when she was trying to figure out whether to return to playing after she was sidelined by an injury at Wimbledon in June 2021.
“He’s Tiger,” she wrote, “and he was adamant that I be a beast the same way he is!”
Asked Wednesday about Woods’ role, Williams said: “We talked a lot. He was really trying to get me motivated.”
She continued: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I was just lost. So many questions. When you can rely on someone like that — I mean, my goodness, he’s Tiger Woods — it was really helpful to get clarity.”