Perhaps the greatest to ever set foot onto a tennis court’s career is over. Serena Williams, who announced before the tournament that she would retire once her time at Arthur Ashe Stadium came to an end, fell in the third round of the 2022 U.S. Open to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1.
After battling valiantly in the first set and taking the second, Williams found herself behind in the third set, 5-1, at which point she repeatedly fended off match point after match point for Tomljanović during the seventh game of the set. Ultimately, Tomljanović was able to get her sixth match point and Williams sent her volley into the net. In the aftermath, Williams congratulated her opponent before walking onto the court, thanking the fans, and receiving a raucous ovation.
“I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me,” Williams wrote in Vogue while announcing her decision. “I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not. I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to look at this magazine when it comes out, knowing that this is it, the end of a story that started in Compton, California, with a little Black girl who just wanted to play tennis.”
Williams’ list of accomplishments is unimpeachable, as she’s won 23 Grand Slam singles titles with another 14 as a doubles competitor and two in mixed doubles. In all, she recorded 858 wins in her career with 73 singles titles.