Serena Williams was in scintillating form early.
Serena Williams was in scintillating form early.

Serena courts more controversy

SERENA Williams returned to the scene of one of her greatest failings with a dominant triumph, eviscerating Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-1 in one of the performances of her career.

The demolition job took less than an hour as Williams whacked 16 winners and five aces in a blistering performance that one commentator labelled as the equivalent of "playing pissed off".

The win was as dominant as it gets and Serena was on her game from the start as she erased the demons of last year's 6-2 6-4 loss in the final to Naomi Osaka when she had a complete meltdown at chair umpire Carlos Ramos.

The US Open made a decision to keep Ramos away from any of Williams' matches at this year's tournament - a situation she was asked about after her win against Sharapova.

"I don't know who that is," Williams dead-panned.

If you thought that was petty, there were also plenty of people willing to believe Williams' husband Alexis O'Hanion's choice of T-Shirt - which read "D.A.R.E. keeping kids off drugs" - was aimed at Sharapova, who was suspended from tennis in 2016-17 after testing positive for a banned substance. D.A.R.E. stands for Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Before the match, the mother-of-one posted a photo of herself with daughter Alexis Olympia in the grounds at Flushing Meadows.

She then showed why she is still the greatest player of the modern era.

Rarely was Williams challenged by a rival who she now holds an amazing 20-2 career head-to-head record over.

The performance was of the highest calibre as Williams fired a warning shot to the rest of the draw that she might finally be ready to join Australian great Margaret Court on 24 grand slam titles.

Serena Williams returns to Maria Sharapova. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Serena Williams returns to Maria Sharapova. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Williams raced through the opening set in 24 incredible minutes and the stat sheet was amazing. "She would win the title, playing like this," 18-time major champion Chris Evert said about Williams on ESPN's telecast.

She won 27 points to just 12 for a shell-shocked Sharapova, hit 9 winners, including three aces and even won 10/17 points on Sharapova's serve, breaking twice.

It wasn't even until midway through the second set that Sharapova got a look in on the Williams serve at 2-1 and already down a break - but Serena snuffed out both break points with sensational winners, including a searing backhand pass down the line.

At that point Sharapova looked completely broken as Williams rounded out the rout.

"Bottom line is I believe in my ability," said Sharapova, who has slipped to 87th in the world rankings after another season marred by injury.

"You can write me off. There are many people that can write me off, especially after going down 6-1 6-1 in the first round of the US Open. As long as it's not the person that's inside of you, you'll be OK."

Of course the reaction to the performance was as one-sided as the match as tennis scribes and sports journos delivered the goods calling the match "not even close", "total domination"

While it's hard to tell just how "pissed off" Williams may or may not have been the performance seemed to scream to the field she's here to win and the women's draw - including Australia's Ash Barty, who Williams is seeded to meet in the quarters - is on notice.

Asked if she felt the tournament was hers to win, the eighth seed replied, "I feel like I'm here to do that. We'll see what happens."