Serena Williams loses at U.S. Open in what could also be her last match


NEW YORK — Serena Williams mentioned what’s in all probability her goodbye to tennis Friday night time at Arthur Ashe Stadium, 23 years and 22 Grand Slam titles after successful her first right here on the U.S. Open.

She misplaced to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in a tense, 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 6-1 match stuffed with the signature energy and battle she has employed to rule girls’s tennis for the previous 20 years. Within the last sport, she staved off six match factors and took Tomljanovic to deuce eight instances, simply two phrases working by means of her thoughts even because the inevitable turned clear: “More spin.”

It was probably the most thrilling night time of a week-long run that Williams has known as a bonus to her almost 27-year profession.

She introduced in Vogue final month that she intends to “evolve” away from tennis and arrived at Flushing Meadows having performed simply 4 matches previously 14 months, successful just one.

As Serena Williams is proving, retiring from tennis will be difficult

However Williams, who turns 41 this month, exceeded expectations in each trend. She was feted all through the week with on-court ceremonies and lavish tribute movies performed earlier than each match; celebrities resembling Tiger Woods, Anna Wintour, Spike Lee, Russell Wilson and Gladys Knight turned as much as watch.

She mentioned she wished her play to dwell as much as all of the pomp and circumstance; on Friday, it did.

After the ultimate sport, Williams held her hand over her coronary heart and mouthed “I love you” to the thundering spectators on their ft in Arthur Ashe Stadium, the positioning of six of her Grand Slam titles. Her signature twirl and wave adopted a while after as she choked again tears, thanked the gang, then paid tribute to her household — her mom, Oracene; sisters Venus Williams and Isha Value; and husband, Alexis Ohanian, all standing in her participant field.

“Thank you, Daddy. I know you’re watching,” Williams mentioned, addressing her father, Richard, earlier than tears started falling in earnest. “Thanks, Mom. I just thank everyone that’s here, that’s been on my side so many years — decades, oh, my gosh, literally decades. But it all started with my parents, and they deserve everything. … I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you, Venus. She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed.

“It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on in my life. I’m just so grateful to every single person that’s ever said ‘Go Serena’ in their life because, yeah, you got me here.”

Ought to Williams by no means play one other event, she walks away with 73 profession titles — the fifth most within the girls’s sport within the Open period — a file $94 million in profession earnings and the Open period file of 23 main trophies, one shy of Margaret Courtroom’s mark.

Courtroom collected hers at a time when fewer gamers traveled to the Australian Open and he or she, a local Aussie, dominated the event to win 11 instances. But the No. 24 held sturdy motivating powers for Williams, who had been chasing the file all through the ultimate years of her profession.

She got here up one brief. To the throngs of supporters roaring her identify Wednesday, it didn’t matter.

Williams and her sister Venus opened the floodgates for range in tennis, inspiring a swath of Black gamers to take up the game — and much more to start out tuning in at residence.

Viewers no matter age, race or gender respect the longevity of her dominance and, within the last stretches of her profession, what she represented to moms. Williams gained the 2017 Australian Open, the ultimate title of her profession, whereas pregnant together with her daughter, Olympia.

Highlights from Serena Williams’s U.S. Open loss to Ajla Tomljanovic

On courtroom, no participant revolutionized girls’s tennis extra. She made energy matter in a sport of angles and finesse, introducing to it large muscle mass and the shot that will likely be her on-court legacy: her serve. Its unmatched mixture of velocity, ferocity and accuracy have made some name it the best shot girls’s tennis has ever seen.

She leaves tennis much less related in her absence, the primary to shelve her racket of a cosmic group of gamers who transcended the sport. Venus, 42, has not mentioned a phrase about retirement. Roger Federer, 41, is lacking his third straight U.S. Open as he recovers from knee surgical procedure. Rafael Nadal, 36, and Novak Djokovic, 35, stay energetic however with a lot much less profession in entrance of them than behind.

“I feel like I really brought something — and bring something — to tennis,” Williams mentioned, when requested what she want to be remembered for. “The different looks, the fist pumps, the just crazy intensity. I think that, obviously, the passion is a really good word.

“Just continuing through ups and downs. I could go on and on. But I just honestly am so grateful that I had this moment and that I’m Serena.”

It appeared for some time Friday that Williams may not be prepared for the second to finish. She leaped to a 5-3 lead early however Tomljanovic, a 29-year-old Aussie with a steel-lined intestine, was not cowed by the roar of the gang nor the deficit.

She remained in movement all through the night time, following her ahead momentum after a winner to the chair or doing heel-kicks between factors, staying bodily free however mentally locked.

She blazed by means of 4 straight video games to take the primary set.

Williams held to win the primary sport of the second. Nevertheless it required an effort that originated deep within the stomach, together with one lunge for a Tomljanovic shot hit at such an acute angle it left Williams sprawled on the courtroom.

Because it had lots of of instances earlier than in lots of of earlier matches, her opponent’s nerve lit Williams’s pilot mild. She started the second set pummeling the ball and going for larger winners, rattling off 4 straight video games of her personal with one of the best, most exact play she has exhibited all event. She gained the second-set tiebreaker on her fifth set level.

Saturday, Williams mentioned, will likely be dedicated to spending time together with her household and celebrating with karaoke. She wrote in her Vogue article that she is retiring partly to increase her household, partly to spend extra time with the 5-year-old daughter she already has.

“Yeah, it’s been really hard on her, my career. So it will be, you know, nice just to do that and spend some time with her, do things that I never really have done or had an opportunity to do,” Williams mentioned. “I have such a bright future ahead of me.”

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