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Serena Williams famous tennis career is likely over as she was knocked out in the third round of the US Open by Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovi at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.
The 23-time grand slam singles winner leaves an unmistakable mark on all sports, not just tennis.
Tomljanovi gets to the round of 16 at the US Open for the first time after winning the three-hour match 7-5 6-7(4) 6-1.
Williams was asked whether she would reconsider her “evolution away from tennis” in an on-court interview with ESPN following the match.
“I don’t think so,” she responded, “but you never know.”
She thanked her parents in a cheerful, tearful interview, stating she was grateful to them because they started everything.
She also owed her success to her older sister, Venus Williams.
Tomljanovi expressed regret because “I love Serena just as much as you guys do.”
Tomljanovi was asked how she managed to be in such an electric environment at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
That ability to find another gear and take it to another level in the most trying circumstances has been the foundation of Williams’ long-term success on the Tour.
She displayed the same toughness and effort as the world No. 46 on Friday. Tomljanovi was performing admirably.
Williams, one of the best female tennis players in history, saved five match points until a shot into the net ended the match.
The numbers that made Serena Williams great
A crowd of 23,859 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium for the night session sought to urge Serena Williams to victory, but on this night, the winner of 847 career matches and 73 titles finished second.
Given her form at the US Open (one win since returning to the circuit in June after a year out with injury), it was reasonable to expect Williams’ opening round match against Danka Kovinic to be little more than an emotional farewell to tennis for the 23-time grand slam winner.
But, as “simply Serena,” Williams produced by far her best tennis of the season to dispatch Kovinic and extend her last dance in New York by a couple of days.
Then there was Kontaveit, the world No. 2 and one of the Tour’s hardest players. The Estonian would be a considerably tougher test than Kovinic, and Williams was unquestionably the underdog in their encounter.
Surely, after two glorious decades at the top, Williams’ career would come to an end here? It didn’t, of course. After all, she is “just Serena.”
Williams’ three-set victory over Kontaveit raised her tennis game to a level that many felt she would never reach again. However, her feared serve’s accuracy and power appear to have returned, as has her quickness around the court.
Tomljanovi attained a career-high ranking of 38 this season and has had remarkable success in 2022, including quarterfinal appearances at Wimbledon and the recently concluded Cincinnati Open.
She remained consistent on Friday, with only 30 unforced errors against Williams’ 51.
She will meet Russian Liudmila Samsonova in the round of 16. Samsonova defeated Serbian Aleksandra Krunic 6-3, 6-3.