Serena starts latest bid for 24th Slam on US Open day two

New York (AFP) –

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Serena Williams continues her protracted pursuit of a record-equalling 24th singles Grand Slam title on day two of the US Open at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

It has been more than three years since Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open -- when she was already pregnant with daughter Olympia.

The 38-year-old has come close since, reaching four major finals only to come away empty handed.

She needs one more to equal Margaret Court's record and starts her latest bid against the 96th-ranked Kristie Ahn at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

Williams's chances of matching Court, and breaking out of a tie with Chris Evert for most US Open women's titles with six, should be improved by the absence of several top players because of coronavirus concerns or injury.

World number one Ashleigh Barty, the second-ranked Simona Halep and Canadian Bianca Andreescu -- who stunned Williams in last year's final -- are all absent from the behind-closed doors tournament.

Also up on Tuesday is former men's world number one and 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray.

The Scotsman, who is battling back from a string of injuries that have ravaged the past three years of his career, takes on Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka.

The men's second and third seeds, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev respectively start their quests for a first Grand Slam title on Tuesday.

They are high up in the draw due to the absence of Rafael Nadal, over coronavirus fears, and Swiss legend Roger Federer due to injury.

In the women's competition, second seed Sofia Kenin takes on Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium and in a "Battle of Britain" contest ninth seed Johanna Konta is up against Heather Watson.