After winning 23 major singles titles and being the younger sister of her fellow great Venus Williams, Serena Williams has said she will be changing her focus away from the sport.
The all-time great Serena Williams was defeated by Ajla Tomljanović Friday night in the third round of the U.S. Open, bringing an end to her storied career.
At 10:22 p.m., Tomljanović, ranked world No. 46 and coming off three straight losses to both Raonic and Berdych, beat Raonic 7-5 6-7 6-1 on the grounds of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
The match was even going into the third set, but the player who brought tennis to a new level of precision and athleticism 25 years ago seemed to lose a step to Tomljanović’s long-armed forehand, two-handed backhands, and body control.
At one point, Williams was dragged to each corner of the baseline until she finally found an opportunity for a winner. The two went shot-for-shot, with Williams hitting a spectacular backhand overhead smash late in the match that made Arthur Ashe Stadium roar.
But Tomljanović’s mental resolve proved stronger than his opponent’s.
The final game traded advantages between Williams and Tomljanović until the sixth match point when Williams sent her return into the net.
Williams thanked her parents and sister Venus, without whom, she said, there wouldn’t be Serena. “It all started with my parents. And they deserve everything,” she said.
“It’s been the most incredible ride and journey,” Williams added. “I’m just so grateful to every person that’s ever said, ‘Go, Serena.'”
For Tomljanović, who recalled being a child and watching Williams play, the win was “surreal.”
“I’m feeling really sorry, just because I love Serena just as much as you guys do. And what she’s done for me, for the sport of tennis, is incredible,” she told Fernández.
Tomljanović said she took the match one point at a time and couldn’t lose focus, even after Williams bested her in the second set.
“Even to the last point I knew she’s in a really good position to win even when she’s down 5-1,” Tomljanović said. “That’s just who she is. “She’s the greatest of all time. Period.”
RELATED: 20 Reasons Why Serena Williams Is The Only Athlete Worth Watching
Fernández asked Williams if she would reconsider leaving the tour, given the championship final-quality of the match, which included game-changing lead changes.
Williams said, “I don’t think so. But you never know.”
Serena Williams announced she would be “evolving away from tennis” after the U.S. Open and nearly a quarter-century of dominance, but when it came time to leave on Thursday, she left with a victory in singles play — her last on the WTA.
And if Williams indeed retires from tennis, she leaves the court with a trophy case packed with 23 major singles titles: Six U.S. Open wins, six Australian Open titles, three French Open wins, and eight Wimbledon championships.
Williams likely left competitive tennis on the same court where she made her first impact as a top-level tennis player.
In 1999, she won her first major title at age 25, when she outlasted Martina Hingis in the U.S. Open final.
According to Told Time Magazine, Williams stated, “It comes to a point where women sometimes have to make different choices than men if they want to raise a family,” in an interview that was posted hours before she took the court Monday. “It’s just black and white. You make a choice or you don’t.”
READ NEXT: J Lo Showed Us Her Rehearsal Dinner and Post-Wedding Brunch Dresses
Sources: NBC News
Source: Read Full Article