-- NEW YORK -- The only real questions that materialized early in Serena Williams' anxiously anticipated first match at this US Open bordered on the rhetorical: Would her opponent, Vitalia Diatchenko, manage to win a single game? And, could she last longer than 45 minutes?
The answers: Not even close.
Williams won 6-0, 2-0 Monday evening when Diatchenko was unable to continue against the player she calls her idol and retired with what appeared to be a foot injury.
It was over in less than 30 minutes -- and that was only because the No. 86-ranked Russian took a bathroom break after the first set and called for the WTA trainer a second time at what turned out to be the end of the match.
Diatchenko won a total of five points, compared to 32 for the six-time US Open champion.
"I told her I was proud of her for coming out here, even though she was already injured," Serena said in her on-court interview. "That's was a great effort. Hopefully we'll be able to play again soon."
Serena has now won 29 consecutive major matches -- 22 of them this year -- which means her quest for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in 27 years remains more than plausible.
Williams has prevailed in 60 of her 61 career first-round Grand Slam singles matches, the best record among her active WTA peers. How much better is Serena than the rest of the field?
"With this milestone, I'm trying to take one match at a time," said Serena, reciting a reoccurring mantra this season. "It feels so good. I'm so ready for whatever happens.
"I'm here at home where it all began in 1999. If I can just stay relaxed and stay in the points, that's all I need to do."
The only real mistake Serena made came with the score 3-0. Rising from her changeover chair, she dropped her racket and had to stoop to pick it up on her way to the baseline.
Serena is already locked in as the WTA's No. 1 player for the fortnight. It will be 134 consecutive weeks, the third-longest streak of all time, behind Graf (186) and Martina Navratilova (156).
It's sometimes hard to remember that Williams, less than a month short of her 34th birthday, is the oldest woman to be ranked No. 1 since computer rankings came into being in November 1975.
How good is it to be Serena right now?
The highest seed left in her half of the draw? Incredibly, it's No. 12-ranked Belinda Bencic, who beat her recently in Toronto. No. 7 Ana Ivanovic, No. 8 Karolina Pliskova and No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro -- and one-time nemesis No. 29 Sloane Stephens -- all suffered upset losses Monday. And Sunday, No. 3 seed Sharapova pulled out with a leg injury.