By Florence Mafomemeh
What an incredible run! 23 grand slam titles in a 27-year illustrious professional career. Tennis great Serena Williams bid farewell to her beloved career at the 2022 U.S. Open. Playing her last match in the 3rd round in a thriller in front of a jam packed, celebrity-filled audience, Williams, as always, gave her all to the very end but lost to Croatian-born Australian Ajla Tomljanović, ending her storybook run in the twilight of her career.
The three thrilling sets lasted more than three hours. The crowd inside the stadium was electric, with people shouting: “Go Serena!” and “Don’t give up!” It was a historic moment as she played the last match of her career in the same venue, the Arthur Ashe Stadium, 23 years after she won her first Grand Slam title.
Twirling her signature twirl, Williams gave a final wave before stepping off the court to Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best.” In an emotional post-match interview before walking off the court for the last time, Williams thanked her supporters and parents.
“Oh my god, thank you so much, you guys were amazing today,” she said. “Thank you, Daddy, I know you’re watching. Thanks, Mom. Thank you everyone that’s here, that’s been on my side—so many years, literally decades. But it all started with my parents, and they deserve everything. So I’m really grateful for them.” “These are happy tears, I guess. I don’t know.”
She went on to thank her sister Venus for “creating” Serena. “And 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 a fun ride. It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on.”
Announcing her retirement from tennis in August, in her own words in an emotional essay published on Voque, the greatest of all time wrote candidly about the point she is at in her life—and the balancing act she plays every day, trying to be both the world-renowned star athlete she is on the tennis court and the mom and wife her family needs her to be. The 40-year-old mother of one said though it was not an easy choice to make, she is ready for the next phase and looking forward to expanding her family.
Williams, who began her professional career at 14 and won her first major title at 17, walked away from the game with 858 tour victories, 73 singles titles, and an Olympic gold medal. She is the 3rd player atop the WTA singles for 319 weeks behind Steffi Graf (377) and Martina Navratilova (332). Together with Venus, Williams won 14 major doubles titles and three Olympic golds.
Dubbed “the GOAT of all GOATS,” Williams, who dominated across more than two decades, winning matches in her teens, 20s, 30s and 40s has been a little bit coy about her retirement plans. Asked if she would come back, she smiled and said: “I don’t think so, but you never know. I don’t know.”
She said she’d prefer to say she is “transitioning” from tennis. “I have never liked the word retirement,” “It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me.” Shall we be seeing Williams on the court again? We have to wait and see.
Williams is married to Reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian. They share a 5-year-old daughter Olympian Ohanian with whom she was pregnant at the Australian Open where she won her last grand slam title 5 years ago.