Serena Williams says goodbye to tennis after the US Open defeat

Serena Williams says goodbye to tennis after the US Open defeat

Serena Williams says goodbye to tennis after the US Open defeat

Serena Williams greeted tennis with emotion after a third round defeat to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open.

Williams’ performances against Danka Kovinic and Anett Kontaveit had given hope to the tens of thousands who flocked to Flushing Meadows hoping her swan song could have a fairytale ending.

But, despite a memorable second-set battle in a raucous atmosphere, there will be no record-breaking 24th Grand Slam single title, with Williams succumbing to a 7-5 6-7 (4) 6- 1.

The 40-year-old, who played her first professional tennis match in 1995, calmly went for the net after missing a final forehand before waving goodbye to all sides of Arthur Ashe Stadium as “Simply The Best” blared from the speakers.

Addressing the crowd in tears, Williams said, “Thank you very much, you were fantastic. I tried. Thanks dad, I know you’re watching. Thanks Mom.

“I just thank everyone who is here, who has been on my side for so many years, literally decades, but it all started with my parents and they deserve it all, so I’m really grateful for them. And I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you Venus. It was a fun journey ”.

Williams revealed earlier this month that, just weeks before her 41st birthday, she had decided it was the right time to get away.

It was fitting that she made it to the US Open, the scene of her first single Grand Slam title 23 years ago, as well as her most controversial moments and where she was eventually hailed as America’s greatest tennis star.

Not sure whether to give her career one last chance this summer, she certainly had no doubts that it was the right decision.

“This week has been really great,” he said. “Just a lot of support, a lot of love. It was truly amazing and overwhelming. I am so thankful for that. The whole crowd really wanted to push me over the line. I am so grateful and grateful for this ”.

Williams has once again produced an exceptional level considering they have played very little tennis in the past 18 months.

She looked set to win the first set when she went 5-3 but her serve, the shot that was her greatest weapon, didn’t quite work and, as she strengthened, Tomljanovic took advantage, winning four games in a row.

Williams responded brilliantly, taking a 4-0 lead in the second, but the certainty that such an advantage would have accompanied such an advantage for most of his career is gone and Tomljanovic returns.

Williams missed four set points in a long eighth game but, with three points left at 4-4 at the tiebreak, took a deep breath, served an ace and forced to decide.

The raving crowd had risen to their feet and Williams started the third set perfectly by once again breaking Tomljanovic’s serve.

Serena Williams roars encouragement to herself

Serena Williams roars encouragement to herself (Frank Franklin II / AP)

But, with the game approaching three hours, the physical strain Williams had put in began to take its toll and she had little more to give.

At 5-1, Williams received a preemptive standing ovation. He held out, saving five vintage-style match points, but with the sixth it was all over.

Having thought his career could have ended in a forced retirement through injury at Wimbledon last year, this was certainly a much more appropriate way to retire, but one that leaves Williams knowing they can still compete at the top of the game as well.

“I’ve come a long way since last year at Wimbledon,” he said. “Making a moment different I think is much better.

“It takes a lot of work to get here. Of course I’m still capable. It takes a lot more. I’m ready to be a mom, to explore a different version of Serena. Technically in the world I’m still super young, so I want to have some life while still walking. “

She was reluctant to completely close the door to another whirlwind, adding with a smile at the press conference: “I’ve always loved Australia, though.”

But Williams has been open about wanting another child, as well as spending more time with her five-year-old daughter Olympia and focusing on her business interests.

She anticipates a role in tennis in the future, saying, “Tennis has been such an important part of my life, I can’t imagine not being involved in tennis. I still don’t know what this involvement is. “

Ajla Tomljanovic kept his nerve

Ajla Tomljanovic kept his nerve (Charles Krupa / AP)

The flood of tributes not only from the sporting world, but from across the spectrum spoke of Williams’ enormous influence, which will last for many years to come.

Asked how she wanted to be remembered, Williams said, “There are so many things. Like the fight. I am such a fighter. I feel like I’ve really brought something, and brought something, to tennis.

“The different looks, the fist pumps, the crazy intensity. Passion, I think, is a really nice word. Continuing only through ups and downs. I could go on and on. But honestly, I’m so thankful that I had this moment and that I am Serena.

Tomljanovic, who will play Liudmila Samsonova, behaved with great dignity and described the moment as “surreal”.

She said, “I’m really sorry because I love Serena as much as you guys do. What you have done for the sport of tennis is incredible. I never thought I’d get a chance to play her in her last game of hers when I was watching all those endings as a kid.

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