There was no funeral air as Serena Williams’ family and friends wandered around the player’s area lobby at Flushing Meadows Friday night.
The retiring superstar just lost in the third round of the US Open, but the atmosphere was relaxed, with husband Alexis chatting with his daughter Olympia in his arms.
They seemed to be at peace with this huge watershed in Serena’s life, and so did she herself after she lost 7-5 6-7 6-1 in a fine match against world No. 46 Ajla Tomljanovic.
Williams’ last media conference was unforgettable, certainly compared to some of the high-tension such occasions in the past.
Records will show the 23-time Grand Slam champion has lost the last six matches on her farewell stage, although that will ignore the thrilling second set that got the Arthur Ashe Stadium up.
It wasn’t until the very last moment, when dramatic, that she saved five match points with a string of forehand winners that kept delaying the moment a sea of phones tried to capture.
Is this really the last respite of a 27-year career? Williams was last asked: “I don’t know. I don’t think about that. I’ve always loved Australia, though,” she replied with a playful smile.
Serena Williams refuses to confirm retirement after U.S. Open third-round loss
The 23-time Grand Slam champion lost Saturday afternoon at Flushing Meadows 7-5 6-7 6-1
However, the inference is clear that she will not be in Melbourne in January.
She has other things to do, and if there’s a lesson from her three rounds in New York, it’s that, just past her 41st birthday, it takes sheer commitment to continue with the likes of Australian athlete Tomgliano. People like Vicky compete.
The truth is that despite the American’s ability to hit the ball, she has lost momentum. Unlike Wimbledon, it wasn’t because she wasn’t well-prepared for the event. There was a scientific build-up that focused on practice groups, but because two hours on the field became three hours, there wasn’t much left in the tank.
In fact, if she passes and faces in-form Russian Ludmilla Samsonova in the fourth round, you suspect the result could be crushed.
The 40-year-old says she’s ‘not thinking about’ the next chapter in her career
So that’s likely to be the case, despite Williams being a teaser with a shrewd tentacle for self-promotion.
Depending on the job situation in the next few years, as well as her business plans and expanding family, you can’t completely rule out her considering a return that’s right for her.
She now faces what is sometimes called the first death of an athlete’s life, a career-ending death.
Williams insisted she wasn’t disturbed by the prospect: “My future is bright. Also, I’m a bit of an edge because Covid happened. Everyone’s shut down for a year and we kind of want to see if we don’t play tennis. , what our life would be like.
Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović could be Williams’ last singles opponent
Although she won the Roland Garros in 2015, she won all four Grand Slams three-quarters of the time, and her career has not been well analyzed in hindsight, which could be the bright spot.
She grimly joked about her proudest moment of the week, referring to some of her heinous behavior on the court in the past: “I didn’t smash the racket, so that’s a plus, and I have a good attitude, Even if I don’t want to.
The US Open will miss her, and so will US Tennis. She has been a rare link to mainstream attention for a sport lacking homegrown superstars that has been pushed to the brink in the US.
She left Jessica Pegula behind as the nation’s No. 1, and she’s a laudable performer, but not one to change dials with the wider public.
American teenager Coco Gauff touted as filling the void left by Serena Williams
Their best hope is Coco Gauff, the articulate and charismatic teenager who is on the cusp of the world’s top ten.
She’ll find her focus is greatly diverted, especially when none of the American men look ready for an immediate breakthrough. Gough, heading into the fourth round, may now find himself saddled with expectations similar to those of Emma Raducanu. Although her development is more gradual, she is more capable of coping.
As for Williams, she doesn’t have many firm plans for the next few days: “Maybe spending some time with my daughter. I’m a super hands-on mom. I’ll definitely be singing karaoke tomorrow.