American Serena Williams triumphed 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-2 over Estonian Anett Kontaveit to progress into the third round of the US Open on Wednesday.
After the victory, Serena 40, said she feels "like I've already won" the US Open.
Having declared that she was already "evolving away from tennis" after a 27-year career, Williams' force of will ensured that the retirement party was put on hold for a little longer.
"I just feel like I have had a big red X on my back since I won the US Open in '99. It's been there my entire career because I won my first Grand Slam early," said Williams.
"But here it's different. I feel like I've already won, figuratively, mentally. It's just pretty awesome the things that I've done."
Williams first played the US Open in 1998 and won her first major at the tournament a year later when she was just 17.
But this US Open is widely expected to be the last of her career which has brought 73 titles as well as a personal fortune estimated at $250 million.
"There's no rush," said Serena on the court when reminded that she had declared herself to be in the closing stages of her career.
"There's still a little left in me so we'll see. I'm a pretty good player. I love a challenge."
"I'm just Serena, you know. I don't have anything to prove. I have absolutely nothing to lose."
On Wednesday, Serena unleashed 11 aces and 38 winners past Kontaveit who cut a forlorn, shellshocked figure at the conclusion of the match.
Williams had arrived at the tournament having played just four matches since last year's Wimbledon.
Her ranking had slumped to 609.
Without a Grand Slam title since 2017 Australian Open and frustratingly one major short of Margaret Court's record of 24, she had admitted that the "countdown" to retirement was on.