Serena Williams’ legendary tennis career is likely to end after her singles third-round loss at the US Open

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion leaves an indelible mark not only in tennis but in the sport as a whole.

Tomljanović, who won the more than three-hour match 7: 5, 6: 7 (4), 6: 1, is in the round of 16 of the US Open for the first time.

In an on-court interview with ESPN after the game, Williams was asked if she would reconsider her development away from tennis she asked it.

“I don’t think so, but you never know,” she said.

In a happy, tearful interview, she thanked her parents and said she was very grateful to them for starting it all.

And she credited her success to her older sister, Venus Williams.

“I wouldn’t be Serena if it wasn’t for Venus,” she said. “She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed.”

Serena Williams shakes hands with Ajla Tomljanovic after a women's singles match at the 2022 US Open on Friday September 2, 2022 in Flushing, NY.

Tomljanović said she was sorry because “I love Serena as much as her.”

“What she has done for me, for tennis, is incredible,” she said in her on-court interview. “I never thought I’d get the chance to play her in her last match when I remember watching her in all those finals as a kid, so this is a surreal moment for me.”

Tomljanović was asked how she dealt with the opportunity to be in this electrifying environment at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I just thought she was going to hit me, you know,” Tomljanović said. “The pressure wasn’t on me. She is Serena. I didn’t think I would – until the last point I knew she was in a really good position to win even if she was 5-1 down. I don’t know how many match points it took to finish it, but that’s the way it is. She’s the greatest of all time, period.”

After her unlikely second round Victory over Anett KontaveitSerena Williams, 40, summed up her surprise performances at the US Open better than maybe anyone else could.
Serena and Venus Williams eliminated in the Czech duo's doubles' match at the US Open

“I’m just Serena,” she said matter-of-factly, a quote that will undoubtedly stand as one of the most memorable in esports.

This ability to shift gears and dig deeper in the most difficult moments has laid the foundation for Williams’ continued success over more than 20 years on the tour.

She showed the same courage and tenacity as world No. 46 Tomljanović on Friday.

“I’ve been down before,” Williams told reporters after the game. “I’ve been down 5-1 before I think and I’ll come back. I’m not really giving up.”

Arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, Williams saved five match points before a shot in the net ended her.

“I tried,” Williams said. “Ajla just played a little bit better.”

The 23,859 crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium tried to nudge Williams to another win, but that night the winner of 847 career games and 73 titles was second best.

Given her form at the US Open – just one win since returning to the circuit in June after a year of injury – it was fair to assume that Williams’ opening round match against Danka Kovinic would be little more than an emotional farewell to tennis for the 23-timer Grand Slam Champion.

But as “just Serena,” Williams produced by far her best tennis of the season to finish off Kovinic perfectly and added a couple of days to her last dance in New York.

Then came Kontaveit, world No. 2 and one of the toughest players on the tour. The Estonian would provide a much tougher test as Kovinic and Williams undoubtedly entered their match as considerable underdogs.

Serena Williams upped her game during the US Open.

After two glorious decades at the helm, surely this would be where Williams’ career would end? Of course not. She’s “just Serena,” after all.

In her three-set win over Kontaveit, Williams raised her tennis level to a place many thought she might not be able to match. The accuracy and power of her widely feared serve seems to have returned, as does her speed on the court.

Tomljanović achieved a career-best 38 this season and had some notable successes in 2022, including quarter-finals at Wimbledon and the recent Cincinnati Open.

She was steady on Friday, having just 30 unforced errors to Williams’ 51.

In the round of 16 she meets the Russian Liudmila Samsonova. Samsonova defeated Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia 6-3, 6-3.

CNN’s Matias Grez contributed to this report.

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