NEW YORK — Serena Williams' first U.S. Open singles match since her 2009 foot-fault tirade came and went, quickly and quietly.
Williams began her bid for a fourth championship at Flushing Meadows and 14th Grand Slam title overall with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over 54th-ranked Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia on Tuesday night.
The 29-year-old American was greeted warmly by the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd as she walked out to play, a far cry from the ugly scene at the same court two years ago, when Williams produced a profanity-laced, racket-brandishing tirade at a line judge after a foot-fault call at the end of her semifinal loss to eventual champion Kim Clijsters.
Williams insisted Tuesday she wasn't thinking about that infamous outburst at all.
"If anything, I thought, 'Wow, I'm back. I haven't played in a long time.' I'm telling you: Out of sight, out of mind for me," she said. "You guys should try it."
Williams missed last year's U.S. Open because of surgery on her right foot after cutting it on glass at a restaurant in Germany in July. That was part of a series of health scares – including clots in her lungs, and a gathering of blood under the skin of her stomach – that sidelined her for nearly a year.
Back in 2009, Williams drew an immediate $10,000 fine from the U.S. Tennis Association and later was hit with a record $82,500 fine from the Grand Slam administrator. She also faced a "probationary period" at Grand Slam tournaments in 2010 and 2011, and was told she could be suspended from the U.S. Open if she had another "major offense."
There was no such fuss Tuesday.
Williams made only 10 unforced errors, compiled 22 winners, never faced a break point, and needed only 56 minutes to wrap things up.
Still, she wasn't completely satisfied.
"I mean, I could've played more aggressive," Williams said. "I kind of was just out there, getting balls back."
The U.S. Open is the sixth tournament of her comeback. She won hard-court tuneup events at Stanford and Toronto in August, her first consecutive titles since 2008.
"I'm so happy to be here. I didn't think I would make it," said the 28th-seeded Williams, whose ranking fell to 175th last month because of all that time off. "Just feel so blessed. I'm so happy."
Because the match before hers on Ashe – Rafael Nadal's 6-3, 7-6 (1), 7-5 victory over Andrey Golubev – lasted nearly three hours, Williams didn't get to play until after 10:30 p.m.
For years, the U.S. Open would start each night session with a women's match, followed by a men's match, but organizers have started occasionally flipping that order.
Williams would prefer if the tournament stuck to its old policy.
"The guys should play second. They're guys. We're ladies," she said. "They should totally play second all the time. Ladies – you open the door for ladies. (The men) should go second. It's ridiculous."