If Serena Williams indeed played the final match of her illustrious career on Friday, the 23-time Grand Slam winner walks away from the sport with a plethora of celebratory twirls, accolades and a well-deserved opportunity to start the next chapter in her life.
Williams delivered a tenacious performance in the longest of her three matches in the 2022 U.S. Open, despite losing to Australian Ajla Tomljanović 7–5, 6–7(4), 6–1 in an electrifying third-round contest. Moments after one of the most dramatic matches of her career, Williams shared plans of what she looked forward to doing most after Friday’s loss.
“I’m definitely resting tomorrow [Saturday], and then probably spending some time with my daughter,” Williams told reporters. “I’m a super hands-on mom. I’ve been with her almost every single day of her life, minus two days or three days.”
Before Friday’s match, Williams shared her “evolution” from the sport on Aug. 9, revealing that she desired to spend more time with her family and that her exemplary career was nearing its end. Williams said her tennis career has been “hard” on her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
“It will be, you know, nice just to do that and spend some time with her, do things that I never really have done or had an opportunity to do,” Williams added.
When the COVID-19 pandemic suspended play on the WTA Tour, Williams had the chance to visualize what her life might resemble without the sport she has loved since childhood. Then, a leg injury in August 2021 forced Williams withdraw from the ’21 U.S. Open before eventually returning to the court this June. But in her time away, Williams got an opportunity to envision life without having to go to the gym.
Williams undeniably has changed the sport of tennis. She has won the most major titles, by a woman or man, in the Open Era and recorded a career singles record of 858–156. Six of Williams’s major titles came at the U.S. Open, the event where she won her first Grand Slam title in 1999 at age 17.
Williams turns 41 on Sept. 26. But until then, she plans to enjoy some time for herself and those that mean the most to her.
“I think I’m definitely probably going to be karaoke-ing tomorrow [Saturday],” Williams said.