Following the thumping by Konta, the 36-year-old American, runner-up at this year’s Wimbledon, withdrew from last week’s Rogers Cup in Canada for “personal reasons”. She later clarified that she had been struggling with post-natal emotions.
The two-time Cincinnati champion, who only returned to the women’s tour earlier this year after giving birth, looked impressive in her opening match at the Western & Southern Open as she fired down eight aces en route to a 6-1 6-2 win over Australian world number 23 Daria Gavrilova.
And after losing the first set to two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova, Williams showed similar form as she levelled the match. Both players broke serve at the start of the third set, before the eighth seed broke again at 4-2 and then held serve to progress to the third round.
“It was a pleasure to share the court with Serena, she’s such a champion,” said Kvitova. “We are both coming back – from injury, from motherhood – so it’s something really special to play her.”
The final Grand Slam of the year begins at Flushing Meadows on 27 August.
Serena Williams marked her return to action after missing the Rogers Cup in Montreal with a comprehensive 6-1 6-2 victory over Daria Gavrilova.
The former world number one and 23-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from the event in Canada citing “personal reasons” and later explained she was struggling with her emotions following the birth of her first child in September.
Williams suffered the worst loss of her career earlier in the month when she was defeated 6-1 6-0 by Konta, but said she knew she would play “a zillion times better”.
She was much improved against Australian Gavrilova, hitting 27 winners and eight aces on her way to a comfortable win.
She will play Czech world number six Petra Kvitova in the next round.
Victoria Azarenka, another former world number one, beat Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets while US Open champion Madison Keys beat fellow American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 3-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.
Plans to revamp the Davis Cup to create an 18-nation World Cup of Tennis Finals will “kill” the competition, says a German Tennis Federation (DTB) boss.
The International Tennis Federation will vote this week on plans to create a new week-long event, to be held each November.
However, it would clash with the ATP’s proposal for a revamped World Team Cup, set to launch in January 2020.
“It will kill the Davis Cup,” said DTB vice-president Dirk Hordorff.
“You cannot make an event which is more or less an exhibition, after the Masters in November, and expect the players to come,” he added.
“We all know how many players are injured and unavailable to play in the Masters, so to have another event after that doesn’t make any sense if you want to have the players.
“The Davis Cup is the crown jewel of the ITF, and if you change something then you have to have a clear concept and a clear contract, but even board members, regional federations and big nations asked questions and they don’t get the answers.”
The ITF, which is the sport’s governing body, is meeting in Orlando this week to vote on significant changes to the oldest men’s team event in tennis.
In February, ITF president David Haggerty outlined a 25-year, $3bn (£2.15bn) plan – supported by an investment group founded by footballer Gerard Pique – for a “major season-ending finale that will be a festival of tennis and entertainment”.
Victor Artuchowski, vice-president of the Polish Tennis Federation, added: “They’ve had five months to explain what’s happening.
“We’ve asked for analysis and due diligence – and we’ve had very few answers. We’re going into one of the biggest things in tennis blind.
“Our chief executive has been told by a board member that if we don’t go through with this deal, the ITF will be bankrupt. Looking into the analysis of the accounts which we have looked into, this isn’t strictly true.”
Haggerty, however, has disputed Artuchowski’s comments, saying that there had been a full consultation, and that there was support for the proposals from several high-profile players, such as Novak Djokovic.
The ITF president said: “We’ve provided written details to members, travelled extensively to meet with regional and national associations, and hosted town hall events at Roland Garros and Wimbledon to provide detail and hear feedback, much of which has been incorporated into the final proposal, such as the 24-team qualifier round to be held each February.
“Novak Djokovic recently expressed his full support for the project, and over the past three months a number of players have spoken positively about the reforms including Rafael Nadal, Marin Cilic, John Isner and David Goffin.
“Privately the majority of players see and support the benefits this change will have.
“We are confident the changes will be approved by the necessary two thirds of voting nations.”