NEW YORK — Serena Williams gave an emotional speech after what was seemingly her closing tennis match on Friday evening, an over-three-hour 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1 loss to Ajla Tomljanovic within the third spherical of the US Open.
“Thanks daddy, I do know you are watching. Thanks mother,” Williams stated earlier than beginning to cry throughout her postmatch on-court interview with ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez. “Everybody that is right here, that is been on my facet, for thus a few years, many years…
“These are blissful tears, I assume. I do not know. And I would not be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thanks Venus. She’s the one cause Serena Williams ever existed … It has been a enjoyable journey. It has been essentially the most unbelievable journey and journey I’ve ever been on.”
Williams, 40, first talked about her impending farewell to the game in a Vogue essay posted through the Canadian Open final month, citing her need to have one other baby. Within the piece, she stated she most popular the phrase “evolution” as an alternative of retirement and acknowledged how troublesome it was to return to the choice.
Throughout her information convention after the match, Williams informed reporters she was enthusiastic about spending extra time along with her daughter, and “discover a distinct model of Serena.” Nevertheless, she did not fully shut the door on a future comeback.
When Fernandez requested her if there was any likelihood she would rethink strolling away, she smiled. “I do not suppose so, however you by no means know.”
Since her announcement, Williams has been given a hero’s farewell from the crowds in Toronto, Cincinnati and New York. All three of her matches helped break US Open attendance information and included everybody from former President Invoice Clinton to Tiger Woods. Even her doubles match with sister Venus was performed on Ashe on Thursday evening to a capability crowd.
Williams’ follow session on Friday drew 1000’s, simply hoping to catch a glimpse. The fervor round Williams even resulted in ESPN bumping the Michigan State-Western Michigan school soccer recreation to ESPN2 to be able to transfer Williams’ match to the first channel.
Williams’ profession was celebrated following her first-round match with an on-court ceremony hosted by Gayle King and featured a video narrated by Oprah Winfrey and a tribute from Billie Jean King.
“Thanks for exhibiting us what it means to return again and for by no means, ever backing down,” Winfrey stated. “Thanks for altering the face of the sport, for uplifting the subsequent era. Thanks for considering outdoors the strains and inspiring us to evolve. Thanks for exhibiting us the best way to love the game, and for all the time loving us again.”
Except for her interview with Fernandez, there was no formal ceremony after the match on Friday, however the crowd — which included Spike Lee, Gayle King, Stan Smith, Saquon Barkley, Russell Wilson, Ciara, Bella Hadid, P.Ok. Subban and Venus — showered her with ovations all through, together with a number of “Se-re-na” chants. Regardless of their collective ardour and apparent admiration, it wasn’t sufficient to propel Williams to a different victory.
After dropping the primary set, a decider appeared all however assured after Williams gained the primary 4 video games of the second set, however Tomljanovic and her highly effective forehand relentlessly fought again. She staved off 4 set factors within the nine-deuce eighth recreation of the set. In the end, after an intense tiebreak, Williams pressured a 3rd set.
However she had little left for the decider and struggled along with her motion. After breaking Tomljanovic within the opening recreation, the Australian gained the subsequent six video games to clinch the match. Williams, nonetheless, fought till the tip and Tomljanovic wanted six match factors to prevail.
Tomljanovic stated she wasn’t shocked by Williams’ battle till the tip. “She’s Serena,” Tomljanovic stated throughout her personal on-court interview. “That is simply who she is, and he or she’s the best of all time. Interval.”
After congratulating her opponent, Williams waved to the group and briefly lined her tearful face with a towel earlier than doing her interview. As Williams stepped off the court docket for the ultimate time in singles play at Arthur Ashe Stadium, as Tina Turner’s “Merely The Greatest” performed, it marked the doable finish of a 27-year profession that transcended the game and made her a world celebrity.
Williams’ mark of 23 main titles is essentially the most by any participant within the Open Period, and trails solely Margaret Court docket (24) for essentially the most ever. Her prolonged checklist of accomplishments consists of 73 profession singles titles, 16 main doubles and blended doubles titles, 4 Olympic gold medals and 319 weeks at No. 1.
She owns numerous information together with essentially the most hardcourt main titles (13) by any participant, essentially the most Grand Slam victories (367) by a girl, and is tied with Chris Evert for essentially the most US Open singles titles (6) within the Open Period. Williams is certainly one of 4 tennis gamers within the Open Period to file a singles titles in 4 completely different many years. At 35, she grew to become the oldest girl to win a significant and maintain the No. 1 rating.
Williams additionally made her mark off of the court docket since bursting onto the scene. A longtime member of the WTA’s Participant Council, she advocated for equal prize cash for girls alongside Venus, and has change into an advocate for equality and social justice.