A record number of people attended the night session on the opening day of the US Open ©Getty Images

Fans flooded in record numbers to the United States Tennis Association Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on the opening day of the US Open as eyes were peeled towards Serena Williams' expected final hurrah in New York.

Williams confirmed earlier this month that she is planning to step back from playing tennis, meaning thousands are keen to see the final moments of her legendary career on the court.

The American's appearance at the Arthur Ashe Stadium in the opening night session, led to a record breaking 29,402 fans flowing into Flushing Meadows.

Another 41,930 attended the opening day session, meaning it was the second-highest single day attendance in the tournament's history with a total of 71,332 fans.

The 40-year-old competed against Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the women's singles first-round, triumphing 6-3, 6-3.

Williams has since progressed to the third-round after beating Estonia's Anett Kontaveit, the women's singles second seed, 7-6, 2-6, 6-2.

The home fans pay tribute to Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion ©Getty Images
The home fans pay tribute to Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion ©Getty Images

The farewell of the 23-time Grand Slam champion has caught the attention of the sporting world and beyond with those to pay tribute including compatriots in golfer Tiger Woods, basketball stars Steph Curry and Chris Paul and United States vice-president Kamala Harris.

Woods, who watched from the stands as Williams defeated Kontaveit, tweeted after the match: "It was a privilege to watch greatness. Congrats @serenawilliams."

Serena Williams final US Open is also attracting big television audiences in the US, with ESPN reporting that it averaged 2.7 million viewers for her match on Monday against Kovinic, four times the viewership earned in the same timing slot a year ago.

Of her long list of honours, the four-time Olympic champion has won the US Open six times in the women's singles category and twice in the women's doubles, alongside sister Venus.

Williams has also been ranked singles world number one by the Women's Tennis Association for 319 weeks, including a joint-record 186 consecutive weeks, as well as finishing as the number one at the end of the year five times.

Williams is scheduled to compete against Australia's Ajla Tomljanović in the third round of the women's singles on Saturday (September 3).

She is also set to partner her sister Venus in the women's doubles today where they will play Czech Republic duo Linda Nosková and Lucie Hradecká.