It’s been a little while coming, but Serena Williams has now entered her retirement era. I mean “evolved away from tennis.” After dominating the sport of tennis for 27 years (!!), Serena played her likely final match on Friday. She lost to Ajla Tomljanovic in a tight match that included a tiebreaking third set. Might as well give the people a show before bowing out of the sport forever (unless she decides to Tom Brady it).
Serena has been on the “Goodbye, tennis” tour, talking more and more about her non-tennis aspirations in outlets like Vogue and jinx extraordinaire Meghan Markle’s podcast. Everyone has been eagerly watching the U.S. Open so that they can say they witnessed the final match of tennis’s greatest star. The tournament has been littered with stars from Zendaya to Dionne Warwick (a.k.a Gladys Knight to certain ESPN commentators). Despite an admirable battle, Serena’s run came to a close in her match against Ajla. From Yahoo! Sports:
Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic beat Williams on Friday night in a thrilling battle, 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 6-1, at Arthur Ashe Stadium. The three-hour match had a wild, lengthy comeback that ended with a heated tiebreak in the second set before Tomljanovic finally closed out the match in the third, ending what will go down as one of the best, and most-watched, matches of the tournament.
After dropping a close opening set, Williams went up 4-0 in the second set and seemed poised to force a third. Yet Tomljanovic won four straight games to close out the first set, powering her way through to force a tiebreak. She nearly won it, too, but Williams escaped with the 7-4 win to extend the match to a third set.
Though Williams jumped up 1-0 with a break in the final set, she dropped the next two quickly and seemed exhausted after more than 2 1/2 hours on the court. Tomljanovic rolled from there, even with seemingly the entire stadium against her, to take the final set and advance into the fourth round while simultaneously ending Williams’ career.
If I was up against an icon AND had the whole crowd rooting against me, I would’ve simply passed away, thereby giving Serena the win. However, Ajla is a professional tennis player who can handle pressure while I’m just a simple office grunt who collapses when I’ve sat in a chair wrong. Serena departed the court to applause and gave an emotional speech, thanking her father, mother, and her sister, tennis icon Venus Williams.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2022
The match has officially gone down as one of the most gripping and watched of the tournament. Well, for some it was riveting. For others, like Serena’s mom, it was a good opportunity to take a cheeky nap. Sleeping during sports? Relatable!
Serena Williams Mom be like “I already know my baby the GOAT I can just sit here and chill” pic.twitter.com/crfLtBzf6e
— The NBA Expert (@RealNBAExpert) September 3, 2022
To be fair, she’s been watching her daughters destroy records and titles for over two decades now. It’s just another Friday for Mama Williams! Although it’s not the way Serena would have liked to have capped her career, she’ll still go down as the GOAT. She’s been at this since debuting in 1995, gobbling up title after title like I gobble up bag after bag of Cheetos while watching the U.S. Open (yes, I am the GOAT of this activity).
She became the first tennis player in history to achieve a Career Golden Slam (winning all four majors and the Olympic gold medal) in singles and doubles. Williams is so dominant in singles that her doubles career, playing alongside Venus, is often forgotten. As a doubles team, they remain undefeated in Grand Slam finals, winning 14 and never losing a single one. In all, Williams spent 319 weeks as the WTA’s No. 1 tennis player in the world. Only Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova spent more time at the top than she did. While she often chose to focus on Grand Slams instead of playing extensively on the WTA tour, she still won 73 singles titles, which ranks her fifth all-time in women’s tennis history. She captured 23 Grand Slam titles, the most in the Open Era, and one behind Margaret Court for the all-time record.
Now that Serena has “evolved” from her tennis career, her plans are to focus on her family and grow her venture capital firm. Hey, as long as she’s not starting a podcast or creating some sort of GOOP line, I’m behind Serena all the way!