Serena Williams’ reign over the tennis court has come to an end. The legendary athlete played what is likely her final professional match Friday (Sept. 2) against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović in the U.S. Open.
Williams battled her opponent for three intense rounds before losing 6-1. Overcome with emotion, the tennis phenom looked out into the crowd during her post-match interview at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where she thanked her family for supporting her career through the years.
“I 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. So I’m really grateful for them,” she said.
She was moved to tears as she gave a special shoutout to her equally phenomenal sister, Venus Williams. “I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you, Venus. She’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed,” said the younger of the two world-class athletes.
Throughout her 27-year career, Williams won 23 Grand Slams, seven Australian Open victories, seven Wimbledon titles, the U.S. Open tournament six times, and the French Open three times. By all accounts, she is easily considered the GOAT.
Last month, she shared that it was time she began “evolving” away from tennis. In interviews since the announcement, she has skirted around declaring her departure a retirement. “Clearly I’m still capable. It takes a lot more than that. I’m ready to, like, be a mom, explore a different version of Serena. 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,” she said. Fans of the sports icon flooded social media with posts thanking Williams as an incomparable era of tennis came to an end. Check out some of the tributes below.
Serena, THANK YOU. It is because of you I believe in this dream. The impact you’ve had on me goes beyond any words that can be put together and for that I say thank you, thank you, thank you, GOAT! pic.twitter.com/qeNZlC05WJ
— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) September 3, 2022
I was pretty disappointed after this loss. But my coach told me to save this photo because “one day that girl will win a lot of Grand Slams.”
— Rhiannon Potkey (@RPotkey) September 3, 2022
Congrats on an amazing career, @SerenaWilliams!
How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time.
I'm proud of you, my friend—and I can't wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents. pic.twitter.com/VWONEMAwz3
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) September 3, 2022
Just thankful to have been alive at the same time as Serena Williams. That’s it. That’s the tweet. pic.twitter.com/snxZ5KzJDe
— COZY CHURCH GIRL (@SylviaObell) September 3, 2022
The greatest to ever do it.
— ESPN (@espn) September 3, 2022
On stats alone, Serena Williams would be the greatest of all time. But when you consider everything not in a stat line—the lily white world of tennis, the brush with death, winning while pregnant—her legacy transcends sport. We’ve been so, so very lucky. A champion for all times.
— Charlotte Clymer 🏳️⚧️🇺🇦 (@cmclymer) September 3, 2022
#SerenaWilliams is the epitome of Greatness, Grace, and Class.
Major salute to the GOAT.
— Daniel R. Hill (@legitdhill) September 3, 2022
A player like no other, a career like no other, a story like no other.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) September 3, 2022
Literally watched #SerenaWilliams become a legend. Truly grateful
— eCommerce Marketing | Stacy Zeal (@StacyZeal) September 3, 2022
What an inspiration! @serenawilliams
Thank you for showing us what it means to NEVER EVER give up! Watching your matches over the years have changed my life. Your influence transcends 🎾. Your grit, fighting spirit and resilience is 2nd to none! #SerenaWilliams #ThankYouSerena
— kharleesi (@Ajini_ade) September 3, 2022
— LeBron James (@KingJames) September 3, 2022
So proud of this young woman. Teaching us all to fight to the end. That our reserves are deeper than we think. That we exit on our own terms leaving a standard of excellence. An astonishing champion. #SerenaWilliams
— Sherrilyn Ifill (@SIfill_) September 3, 2022
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) September 3, 2022
— Chris K (@justchris513) September 3, 2022
— Shelia P. Moses (@sheliapmoses) September 3, 2022
The greatest GOAT of all time; GOAT of GOATS. Such an inspiration, such a role model @serenawilliams thank you queen!! 👏🏻👏🏻💪🏻💪🏻
— Cristy Martínez (@crismartcard) September 3, 2022
Thank you @serenawilliams 🎾 27 years 🐐 Power, strength, resilience, grace, confidence balanced with humility… what a magnificent career and legacy. And you’re just getting started! https://t.co/EfT0OLCclc
— Dolly Turner (@COSTurner) September 3, 2022