Serena serves up an eyeful at Open opener

JUST a subway ride from Broadway, the US Open tennis championship has always thrived on showmanship.

From the Louis Armstrong Stadium to the firework spectaculars and Serena Williams’ latest daring outfit, showbiz reminders are never too far away.

Williams chose the opening night on Monday to unveil her latest creation courtesy of her sponsors Nike. It caused more fuss than the brief encounter that followed against Sandra Kleinova of the Czech Republic.

The fashion-conscious number three seed knocked up wearing knee-high black leather boots to complement a denim mini skirt and black cropped top which had the crowd buzzing.

The boots peeled away to leave regulation tennis shoes but the rest stayed as Williams, the 1999 and 2002 champion here, brushed aside her opponent 6-1, 6-3 in 53 minutes.

Williams, who later described her new look as her “Rebel Without A Cause line”, spent virtually all her post-match interview talking about fashion, her dogs, favourite holiday destinations just to underline the point that this fortnight in the Big Apple is about personalities not performances.

Yet it was another two old stagers who caught the eye under the lights at the US National Tennis Centre.

Andre Agassi, who was wearing denim on court when Serena was still dribbling down her bib, began his bid for a third US Open title and ninth grand slam at the Arthur Ashe Stadium against Robbie Ginepri.

Making his 19th successive US Open appearance, the darling of the Flushing Meadows crowd looked to be down and out a mere two months ago. At 34, he suffered three straight defeats and then withdrew from Wimbledon.

Those who had written him off, however, were stunned when he beat Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt in successive rounds to take the Cincinnati Masters.

And he kept his hot streak going with a sixth victory, overcoming the resilient Ginepri, to win in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4, 6-2.

While Agassi was taking his bows his old Davis Cup team-mate Todd Martin, 34, was explaining his decision to retire from professional tennis.

“This might be a big mistake, I might be in tears at any moment,” Martin, the former finalist in the US and Australian Opens, told the crowd. “It’s been a pleasure playing in front of you.”

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