Serena Williams bids emotional farewell to tennis after losing at the US Open

Serena Williams gave an emotional goodbye to tennis after a third-round loss to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open.

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

But despite a memorable second-set comeback in a rough atmosphere, there will be no record-breaking 24th Grand Slam singles title as Williams succumbed to a 7-5 6-7(4) 6-1 loss.

The 40-year-old, who played her first professional tennis match in 1995, calmly walked to the net after missing one last forehand before waving to all sides of Arthur Ashe Stadium as “Simply The Best” played over the speakers.

Addressing the crowd in tears, Williams said: “Thank you so much, you guys were amazing. I tried. Thanks daddy, I know you’re watching. Thank you mum.

“I just want to 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 everything so I’m really grateful to them. And I wouldn’t be Serena if it wasn’t for Venus, so thank you Venus. It was a fun ride.”

Williams revealed earlier this month that just weeks before her 41st birthday, she decided it was time to step down.

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

After unsure whether to give her career a final try this summer, she certainly had no doubt that it was the right decision.

“This week has been really great,” she said. “Just so much support, so much love. It was really amazing and overwhelming. I’m so thankful for that. The whole crowd really wanted to push me over the line. For that I am so thankful and thankful.”

Williams has once again shown tremendous level considering she has played very little tennis in the past 18 months.

She seemed poised to win the first set as she took a 5-3 lead, but her serve, the shot that was her greatest weapon, didn’t quite work and as she solidified, Tomljanovic took advantage and won four games in a row.

Williams responded brilliantly, taking a 4-0 lead in the second, but the confidence that would have accompanied such a lead for most of her career is gone and Tomljanovic came back.

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

The insane crowd was on their feet and Williams started the third set perfectly, breaking Tomljanovic’s serve again.

Serena Williams shouts at herself (Frank Franklin II/AP)

(AP)

But as the match neared the three-hour mark, the physical exertion Williams had put in began to take its toll and she had little left to give.

When the score was 5-1, Williams received a precautionary standing ovation. She held on grimly, saving five match points in classic fashion, but it was all over by the sixth.

After thinking her career could have ended with an injury-related Wimbledon retirement last year, this was definitely a far more fitting way to say goodbye, but one that also lets Williams know she’s still at the top of the game can keep up.

“I’ve come a long way since last year at Wimbledon,” she said. “I think it’s much better to make it a different moment.

“It takes a lot of work to get here. Obviously I’m still capable. It takes a lot more than that. I’m ready to be a mom, to discover a different version of Serena. I’m still super young technically, so I want to have some life while I’m still running.”

Reluctant to fully close the door on another fuss, she added with a smile in the press conference: “I’ve always loved Australia though.”

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

Expecting a role in tennis in the future, she says: “Tennis has been such a big part of my life, I can’t imagine not being in tennis. I don’t know yet what that stake is.”

Ajla Tomljanovic kept his nerve (Charles Krupa/AP)

(AP)

The spate of accolades not just from the sporting world but across the spectrum spoke of Williams’ tremendous influence that will continue for many years to come.

When asked how she would like to be remembered, Williams said, “There are so many things. Like the fight. I’m such a fighter. I feel like I’ve really brought something to tennis and I’m bringing something to it.

“The different looks, the pumps, the just crazy intensity. Passion I think is a really good word. Just keep going through ups and downs. I could go on. But I’m honestly so grateful that I had this moment and that I’m Serena.”

Tomljanovic, who will next play Liudmila Samsonova, treated herself with great dignity, calling the moment “surreal.”

She said: “I’m really sorry because I love Serena as much as you do. What she has done for tennis is incredible. I never thought I would have the chance to play her in her last match when I was a kid watching all these finals.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/serena-williams-ajla-tomljanovic-arthur-ashe-stadium-anett-kontaveit-venus-b2158862.html Serena Williams bids emotional farewell to tennis after losing at the US Open

Fry Electronics Team

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