End of an Era: Serena Williams signs off a stellar career

It was not the kind of farewell the 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams would have wanted as she played her last competitive singles match on Friday losing 7-5, 6-7 (4/7) 6-1 to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović at the US Open. 

 The 40-year-old who had hoped to call time on her glittering career on a winning note fell short in the 3rd round at the Arthur Ashe Stadium as the Australian Tomljanović ranked 46th  overpowered the Tennis great. 

The 29-year- old needed just 6 match points to upstage Serena totally unfazed by the raucous crowd that was cheering the home favorite.   

 In her post-match press conference, Serena Williams was moved to tears as she was faced with the realization that the loss was perhaps her final act in her illustrious career. “These are happy tears, I guess.” 

 Serena thanked her sister Venus, a seven-time grand slam winner, and her parents for being instrumental in her success. “There wouldn’t be a Serena if there was no Venus,” she said. 

 The Mother of one announced her plans to retire from the sport in an op-ed on Vogue magazine earlier last month, a message received with disbelief and shock amongst tennis supporters. 

 Online, tributes came from all spheres with celebrated TV Personality Oprah Winfrey who has followed the career of the two Williams summing it up as, “25 years. Champion. Shero. Legend forever!” 

 Tiger Woods, a golf legend paid homage to Serena, “You’re literally the greatest on and off the court.” Former US First Lady Michelle Obama and basketball star  LeBron James are among the celebrities who celebrated Serena Williams. 

 Tennis is a sport still trying to navigate racial barriers. Serena became a trailblazer for African Americans winning 23 Grand Slam titles and smashing aside milestones with a determination as powerful as the raw energy that defines her skills on the court. 

Serena battled through struggles as well. Her half-sister, Yetunde Price, was fatally shot in 2003 at age 31 by a gang member in their hometown of Compton. 

She also underwent two surgeries in 2010 after her Wimbledon triumph after injuring her foot at a German restaurant and spent 20 weeks in a cast. 

Serena gave birth to her daughter in September 2017 and spent six weeks bedridden after a pulmonary embolism, but battled back to make her return to competition five months later in the Fed Cup doubles alongside her sister Venus. 

She also raised the bar on financial success. Serena has won $95m in career prize money, the most of any female tennis player. 

 Tennis experts, consider her the Greatest of All Time- GOAT. She has won 856 matches and holds the all-time record of major match wins, 367. Over her 27-year tennis career, Serena has only lost 154 matches. 

 While thanking every supporter who has followed her career, she signed off by saying, “It’s been a fun ride. It’s been the most incredible journey and ride I have been on.” 

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