Serena Williams burst into tears following her career-ending defeat to Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round of the US Open.
The American thanked her family, including father Richard and mother Oracene, before breaking down on the center of Arthur Ashe stadium.
‘Thank you Daddy, I know you’re watching. Thanks Mom. Oh my God,’ Williams said post-match, beginning to cry.
‘I just thank everyone that’s here, that’s been on my side, so many year, decades, oh my gosh literally decades.
‘But it all started with my parents and they deserve everything so I’m really grateful for them.’
Williams then went on to mention her elder sister and inspiration, Venus, for her instrumental role in the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion’s career.
‘I wouldn’t be Serena if it wasn’t [for] Venus, so, thank you, Venus. She’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed.’
Despite tearing up on the court, Williams insisted they were ‘happy tears.’
Serena Williams could not contain her emotions following the loss to Ajla Tomljanovic Friday
Naturally, Williams was overwhelmed with emotion, but remained reflective and indeed philosophical following the dramatic three-set, 7-5. 6-7, 6-1 loss to Australian Tomljanovic.
‘It’s been a fun ride, it’s been most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been in my life,’ she continued.
‘And I’m just so grateful to every single person that’s ever said “go Serena” in life. I’m just so grateful because it got me here.’
Williams cut a frustrated and forlorn figure at times as Tomljanovic ultimately proved too good
When asked if this was truly the final chapter to a trophy-filled, multiple-decade career, Williams provided Arthur Ashe with some comic relief before largely confirming her previous commentary on the matter.
She said: ‘I’m literally playing my way into this and getting better. I should’ve started sooner this year!
‘I don’t think so, but you never know. I don’t know.’
It is unlikely that Williams would indeed return to professional tennis given her burning ambition to ‘evolve’ and grow her family, yet it is difficult to image her competitive spirit ever being extinguished.
‘Thank you everyone,’ — those were the last words Williams uttered before departing Arthur Ashe.
Perhaps they are the last we will ever hear from Williams in her current iteration as the greatest player of the women’s Open era.
The 23-time singles Grand Slam champion did show incredible drive and passion throughout
Williams’ opponent, and third-round victor Tomljanovic, was effusive in her praise of the Compton native following the greatest achievement of her tennis life.
‘I’m feeling really sorry just because I love Serena just as much as you guys do and what she has done for me, for the sport of tennis is incredible,’ Tomljanovic said post-match.
‘I never thought that I’d have a chance to play her in her last match, when I remember watching her as a kid in all those finals, so, this is a surreal moment for me.’
The Aussie handled the pressure of the patriotic New York crowd with immense fortitude.
Williams will likely never return to the professional tennis circuit as she desires to now ‘evolve’
Surprisingly, she admitted there wasn’t an enormity of internal pressure on her shoulders, simply due to the nature of standing across from such a gargantuan sporting presence.
‘I just thought she would beat me, you know, so there was the pressure wasn’t on on me,’ she added.
‘She’s Serena. Even till the last point I knew that she’s in a really good position to win, even when she’s down 5-1.
‘I don’t know how many match points I needed to finish it off but that’s just who she is. And she’s the greatest of all time period.’
While Tomljanovic had her way with Williams in the final set, momentum — and the crowd — were against her leading into the decider, after Williams won the second set tiebreak.
‘I couldn’t dwell too long, she admitted. ‘Because I know if I’m not focused for two seconds, she will run off with that third set.
‘So, I just tried to hang in there and take one point at a time, literally.’