Serena Williams has bid farewell to tennis after defeat to Ajla Tomljanovic at the US Open, although she has left the door ajar to pick up the racket again in future.
The 40-year-old was in tears after a 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 defeat to the Australian, which looks likely to be the final contest of her absolutely incredible 27-year pro career.
The American has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 14 more in the doubles with sister Venus, as she goes down as not only one of the greatest to ever play tennis, but one of the finest sportspeople ever to perform.
On Friday night at Flushing Meadows she was keen to thank people who had helped her reach this point, including the lucky few who saw her final match in person.
I thank everyone that’s here, that’s been on my side so many years, decades. Oh my gosh, literally decades,’ said Williams.
‘But it all started with my parents. And they deserve everything. So I’m really grateful for them. And I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you, Venus. She’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed.
‘It’s been a fun ride, it’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever had in my life. And I’m just so grateful to every single person that’s ever said “go Serena” in life. I’m just so grateful because it got me here.’
Serena fans who are sad that this is the last time they will see her on court may be boosted by something of a tease from the GOAT.
Asked whether this was indeed the end, she said: ‘I think so, you never know.’
However, she also spoke of what she now plans to do with tennis behind her, adding: ‘I’m ready to be a mom and explore a different version of Serena.’
‘And technically in the world I’m still super young so I want to have a little bit of a life while I’m still walking.’
In terms of her immediate plans, though, it sounds like she will be on the microphone on Saturday.
Asked for how she will spend her first post-tennis day, she said: ‘I think I’m definitely, probably going to be karaoke-ing tomorrow.’
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