The curtain will soon come down on one of the greatest careers the world of sport has ever seen and Flushing Meadows, the home of the US Open, will provide a fitting stage for Serena Williams’ final act.
Williams announced earlier this month that she would “evolve away from tennis” after this year’s US Open, saying that she has “never liked the word retirement.”
Now 41 years of age, Williams’ career will come full circle as her final match is to be played at the site of the first of her 23 grand slam singles wins, the 1999 US Open. Then just a teenager, Williams burst onto the scene to stun world No. 1 Martina Hingis in the final and lay the first stepping stone on her path to two decades of dominance.
“If I could just pick one thing that she possesses incredibly strongly compared to other players and champions, it’s a strong determination to go through difficult stages and to win no matter what, year after year,” Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open men’s champion, told CNN Sport.
“I’m hoping that she’s going to have a fantastic US Open and to give the best farewell is to go with the win. So [I’m] hoping that she can do it.”
Since returning to the circuit back in June after a year out through injury, Williams has managed to win just a single match and has been unable to get close to the form that helped her win her last grand slam title in 2017.
Even if she cannot achieve a dream final flourish by lifting the title at Flushing Meadows, Williams’ 23 grand slam singles titles will go down as the most by any player in the Open Era and just one shy of Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Serena Williams beat Martina Hingis in the 1999 US Open final to win her first grand slam title.
Williams’ greatness is not only limited to the singles court, having won every doubles grand slam title at least twice and winning two of four mixed doubles grand slam titles. She has also achieved more than $94 million in on-court career earnings.
Few tennis players have transcended the sport like Williams and her presence will undoubtedly be missed on the Tour.
One of the many young talents that will likely be plugging that gap is defending US Open champion Emma Raducanu. The teenager stunned the world of sport last year by becoming the first qualifier in history to win a grand slam title in what was only her second appearance in the main draw of a slam.
Raducanu and Williams crossed paths for the first time two weeks ago at the Cincinnati Masters, with Raducanu coming out on top in straight sets.
However, that was one of just 12 wins that Raducanu has mustered in a season that has been blighted by injuries and patchy form. She’s shown flashes, though, of the player that triumphed at Flushing Meadows last year, most notably in the recent demolition of two-time grand slam champion Victoria Azarenka in Cincinnati.
Two thousand of the 2,756 ranking points that currently have Raducanu 11th in the world — and as high as 10th back in June — came from her US Open win, and failure to get close to defending her crown will see the 19-year-old plummet down the WTA world rankings.
Emma Raducanu secured one of the most remarkable grand slam wins in history at the 2021 US Open.