ESPN averaged first-day record of 1.7 million viewers for PrimeTime at the U.S. Open (7 p.m. – 12:03 a.m. ET) on Monday, an increase of 279% over last year and up 40% over the previous high in 2019.
After a shaky start, 23-time grand slam title winner Williams found her old form and defeated Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-3, 6-3.
The match averaged 2.7 million viewers glued to the drama for the 1:45 match. The audience peaked at 3.2 million in the last quarter-hour (9–9:15 p.m. ET), which saw Williams take the match and then receive a tribute from the 24,000 present including Hugh Jackman, Anna Wintour, Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, Lindsey Vonn, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, Anthony Anderson, Spike Lee and Martina Navratilova.
Tennis’ final Major tournament of the year is expected to be the 40-year-old’s likely farewell U.S. Open appearance. She first played at Flushing Meadows in 1998 and won the tournament a record six times (tied with Chrissie Evert).
Williams’ next match is tomorrow night against No. 2 Seed Anna Kontaveit at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.