Williams looking to wave American flag again

Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:21pm EDT
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) - Serena Williams will once again be counted on to wave the Stars and Stripes at the U.S. Open as she takes center stage at New York's Flushing Meadows with the next generation of American tennis hopefuls waiting in the wings.

The world number one has always made a point of how special it is to play at home and there is no bigger stage than center court at the U.S. National Tennis Center during the year's final grand slam.

Expectations weigh on Williams but it is a burden she has capably carried on her muscular shoulders since claiming her maiden grand slam on the New York hard courts in 1999 and 14 years later continues to do the heavy-lifting for U.S. tennis.

"I love playing in the USA," said Williams after winning the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Sunday. "Just feels so good it be an American and play in America.

"I love holding up the trophy. For me, there is no better feeling."

Williams has reached the U.S. Open winner's circle five times, including the last two years, and is favored to add a sixth to her collection when the gates swing open on Monday at Flushing Meadows.

She arrives in New York proclaiming to be at the top of her game, riding the momentum from hard court titles in Stanford and Cincinnati that book-end a semi-final appearance in Montreal where she lost to her resurgent sister Venus.

Adding to Williams’s confidence, the path to the Sept. 7 women's final has been cleared of at least one major obstacle with another limping.   Continued...

Aug 16, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Serena Williams (USA) reacts on day six of the Western and Southern Open tennis tournament at Linder Family Tennis Center.  Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports