For the first time in a couple of decades, Serena Williams spent her birthday without thinking about tennis, focusing on her family. The 23-time singles Major champion ended her glorious career a couple of weeks ago at the US Open, ending her tennis journey right before her 41st birthday and starting a new chapter of her life.
Serena explained that she had to stop with her professional duties, missing spending more time with her daughter and often finding it hard to compete since becoming a mom. Serena claimed her 23rd Major title at the 2017 Australian Open and gave birth to a child later that year.
The grand champion returned to action in the spring of 2018 and reached four Major finals at Wimbledon and the US Open by 2019. Serena lost them al failed to secure the elusive 24th Major title. Despite injuries, the American gave everything to prolong her career, although it was clear that her retirement was just around the corner.
Williams took a year off the court and decided to finish her tennis journey in front of the home crown in New York. Serena stopped the clock and passed two rivals to reach the third round. The American faced Ajla Tomljanovic at Arthur Ashe Stadium and suffered a 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 loss in three hours and five minutes to march into history.
As always, Serena left everything on the court in front of her fans, fighting like a lion before running out of steam in the decider. Tomljanovic won eight points more than Williams thanks to that deciding set, preserving energy and overpowering the 23-time Major winner.
Serena was a more aggressive player, hitting 50 winners and errors and rushing to the net to finish the points. Still, it was not enough to propel her over the top despite an incredible battle until the end and five match points saved!
Serena Williams ended her career at the US Open.
The American broke at love in game the opener’s game eight and served for the set at 5-3. Tomljanovic broke back in game nine and held in the next one to level the score at 5-5.
Ajla grabbed another break in game 11 with a backhand down the line winner and wrapped up the set with a forehand crosscourt winner on her serve at 6-5. Williams started all over in the second set and broke twice in a row to forge a 4-0 lead.
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Ajla served to stay in the set at 2-5 and fended off four set points to extend the battle. Serena got broken at 15 in game nine to keep her rival in contention. Both players served well in the remaining games to introduce a tie break, a must-win one for the American.
Serena opened a 4-1 advantage before Ajla climbed back to 4-4. Williams cracked a forehand down the line winner to move 6-4 in front and wrapped up the set in the 11th point to introduce a decider after two hours and 13 minutes.
Serena lost ground in the final set and experienced three straight breaks to fall 5-1 behind. Not willing to surrender, Williams fended off five match points on Tomljanovic’s serve in game seven. Ajla converted the sixth match point after Serena’s forehand error that pushed her into the fourth round and the American into history.
“I needed to stop. I always said I wanted to stop while playing really good tennis and winning and beating good players. For me, it’s about things I want to do spiritually and spend time with my daughter and family.
As a super hands-on mom, I can not tell you how hard it was. I lost so many matches after I had Olympia because it was so hard to be on the court. I have given so much of my life to tennis, my entire life, that it’s time to do something different for me and work on other things.
When you are on the inside, you can not see it. It’s completely different when you are involved. If I want to come back, I definitely can still come back,” Serena Williams said.