For the first time in a couple of decades, Serena Williams spent her birthday without thinking about tennis and focused on her family. The 23-time major singles champion ended her glorious career a few weeks ago at the US Open, ending her tennis journey just before her 41st birthday and starting a new chapter in her life.
Serena explained that she had to step down from her work duties because she missed spending more time with her daughter and has often had a hard time keeping up since becoming a mother. Serena claimed her 23rd major title at the Australian Open in 2017 and gave birth to a child later that year.
The Grand Champion returned to action in spring 2018 and reached four major finals at Wimbledon and the US Open through 2019. Serena lost them all and failed to secure the elusive 24th Major title. Despite injuries, the American gave everything to extend her career, even though it was clear that her retirement was just around the corner.
Williams took a year off the court and decided to end her tennis journey before the home crown in New York. Serena stopped the clock and passed two rivals to reach the third lap. The American faced Ajla Tomljanovic at Arthur Ashe Stadium and suffered a 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 defeat in three hours and five minutes to go down in history.
As always, Serena left everything on the court in front of her fans and fought like a lion before running out of breath in the decider. Tomljanovic won eight points more than Williams thanks to that crucial set, saving energy and overwhelming the 23-time Major winner.
Serena was a more aggressive player, hitting 50 winners and errors and charging to the net to finish the points. Still, it wasn’t enough to propel them to the top despite an incredible fight to the end and five match points saved!
Serena Williams ended her career at the US Open.
The American broke on serve in the game in game eight of the opener and served 5-3 to the set. Tomljanovic broke back in the ninth game and held in the next game to level the score at 5-5.
Ajla grabbed another break in game 11 with a backhand down the line, finishing the set with a forehand crosscourt winner on her serve for 6-5. Williams started the second set, breaking twice in a row to take a 4 : 0 lead to achieve.
Ajla served to stay 2-5 in the set and saved four set points to prolong the fight. Serena was broken in the ninth game at 15 to keep her rival in contention. Both players served well in the remaining games to set up a tie-break that the American desperately needs to win.
Serena opened a 4-1 lead before Ajla climbed back to 4-4. Williams cracked a forehand down the line to take a 6-4 lead, finishing the set in the 11th point to initiate a decider after two hours and 13 minutes.
Serena lost ground in the final set and suffered three straight breaks to fall 5-1 behind. Unwilling to surrender, Williams deflected five match points on Tomljanovic’s serve in the seventh game. Ajla converted the sixth match point after Serena’s forehand error that pushed her into the fourth round and the American into history.
“I had to quit. I’ve always said I wanted to quit while I play really good tennis and win and beat good players. For me it’s about things that I want to do spiritually and spend time with my daughter and my family.
As a super hands-on mom, I can’t tell you how hard it was. I lost so many games after I had the Olympics because it was so hard to be on the pitch. I’ve dedicated so much of my life to tennis, my whole life, that it’s time to do something else for me and work on other things.
If you’re on the inside, you can’t see it. It’s completely different when you’re there. If I want to come back, I can definitely still come back,” said Serena Williams.