Tiger Woods supports Serena Williams at U.S. Open


They have won 38 majors in their respective sports, and Tiger Woods took the seat with her family when Serena Williams faced the world’s No. 2 player at the U.S. Open on Wednesday. Sit together in the stands at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“He’s one of the reasons I’m here,” Williams told reporters after beating Annette Kontaveit in three sets. “It’s one of the main reasons I’m still playing.”

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Woods was also an enthusiastic supporter, delivering an old-fashioned Tiger fist pump when Williams’ victory was complete, later tweeting: “It’s an honor to see greatness.” But he’s no ordinary fan.

She recently revealed in Vogue that Woods, 46, and Williams, 40, forged a relationship as their storied athletic careers came to an end, and she used him as a mentor.

Williams has played just four games in the past 14 months and won only once. Her last match before the U.S. Open was a loss to 19-year-old Emma Raducanu on Aug. 16, lasting just 65 minutes. Her Wimbledon trip this summer ended with a first-round loss and a slip and fall injury on wet grass.

She’s starting to mentally prepare for what she calls her next steps—a business venture, and perhaps joining a family that includes 5-year-old daughter Olympia—but isn’t quite ready to leave the sport she’s turned pro. A 14 year old child. Enter Woods.

“I was talking to my friend Tiger Woods and I told him I needed his advice on my tennis career. I said, ‘I don’t know what to do: I think I’m done, but maybe I’m not done yet [tennis],'” Williams told Rob Haskell in Vogue. “He’s a tiger, and he insists I’m a beast like him!

“He said, ‘Selena, what if you just gave it two weeks? You don’t have to commit to anything. You just go on the court every day for two weeks, give it your all, and see what happens. I said, ‘Okay’ Well, I think I can do it.”

Serena Williams fans celebrate the tennis star’s victory over No. 2 seed Annette Contaveit at the U.S. Open on Aug. 31 in New York. (Video: Reuters)

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Williams said she waited a month, then returned to the court, where “it felt amazing to pick up the racket again.”

At the time, she said she was “fine. I’m really fine. I went back and forth about whether to go to Wimbledon and the U.S. Open after that. As I said, the whole evolution was not easy for me.”

For now, her evolution is on hold. Next up in the U.S. Open is a doubles with her sister Venus on Thursday night. She will play unseeded Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday, and she knows the draw will be in her favor with the second-placed player away as she tries to chase Tied Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

“I know a fan fantasizes I might tie up Margaret in London that day [at Wimbledon], and then possibly breaking her record in New York and then at the awards show saying, ‘Goodbye! ‘” Williams told Vogue. “…But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final moments. I’m not good at saying goodbyes, the worst in the world. But please know that I am more grateful to you than I can express in words. You took me to so many victories and so many trophies. I will miss that version of me, the girl who played tennis. And I will miss you. “

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