NEW YORK | Serena Williams seemed to have written the final chapter of her legend on Friday when the American hit a final ball out of bounds after a game that lasted almost 10 minutes.
• Read also: United States Open: Goodbye Serena
• Read also: US Open: Iconic farewell for Serena Williams
It was as if the great champion did not want to leave, did not want to leave this ground where, on six occasions, she brandished the US Open champion trophy at arm’s length.
Almost a month ago, in the magazine vogue, Serena wrote that she had chosen to “evolve out of tennis” (she refuses to use the word “retirement”) and that she would be playing the last tournaments of her illustrious career in the coming weeks.
New York, where she won her first Grand Slam title 23 years ago, seemed the perfect place for these great farewells.
ready to be a mother
But despite the pomp that surrounded her three games played on the Arthur-Ashe, Williams refused to confirm that she had played her last meeting on Friday against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, 46th in the world. A clash that she lost 7-5, 6-7 (4) and 6-1.
“I’ve always loved Australia…”, launched the soon-to-be 41-year-old player at a press conference, referring to the Australian Open, played at the end of January.
“But it takes a lot of work. Clearly, I can still do it, she continued. But it takes more than that. I’m ready to be a mother, to explore a different version of Serena. »
“Technically, in the normal world, I’m still super young, so I want to live a bit while I’m still able to walk. »
The American is already the mother of four-year-old Olympia, with whom she was pregnant when she lifted the last of her 23 major titles at the Australian Open.
In the vogue, she talked about wanting to have a second child and raise him, this time, without playing tennis at the same time.
In 27 years on the circuit, Serena Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles – a record in the modern era –, spent 319 weeks ranked No. 1 in the world and won 73 WTA titles.
She also won 85% of the matches she played and pocketed $135 million on the stock market, another record.
But his career was not without controversy. There was this long boycott of Indian Wells, these threats against a linesman.
Beyond her numbers and her anger, however, the legend hopes that she will be remembered for her “fighter” attitude.
Because if nothing at first seemed to destine the little girl from Compton, California, for a career in professional tennis, she finally revolutionized this sport.
“I feel like I really brought something to tennis. A different style, the raised fists, the slightly crazy intensity. Passion, ”she listed.
“And also, I persevered in the best moments as well as in the most difficult ones. Honestly, I’m just really grateful to have had this career and to be Serena. »
SHE BEAT TWO TOP 10 TO 16 YEAR OLDS
Serena Williams and fellow countrywoman Monica Seles
At just 16 years old, then ranked outside the top 300, Serena Williams beat two top 10 players in Chicago, in her second appearance in the main draw of a WTA tournament. Few people then know this young player who reached the semi-finals by beating the Frenchwoman Mary Pierce, then seventh in the world, and her compatriot Monica Seles (photo), fourth.
FIRST MAJOR TITLE AT 17
In 1999, the US Open final pitted Williams against another young player, Switzerland’s Martina Hingis (pictured). Despite being only 18 years old, Hingis has already won five major titles. The American, a year her junior, however, managed to ignore the pressure of the partisan crowd to win the first of her 23 Grand Slam trophies.
THE BEGINNING OF A LONG BOYCOTT
Both Serena and Venus Williams are at the top of their game at the beginning of 2001. They must also face each other in the semi-finals of the prestigious Indian Wells tournament, played in March. But a few minutes before the long-awaited meeting, Venus withdrew, injured, under the boos of the crowd. When she jumps onto the court the next day to face Belgian Kim Clijsters, Serena is heckled in turn. Richard, the father of the two players, assures that this uproar is motivated by racist intentions. The youngest of the Williams will win the ultimate game, but will not play in Indian Wells for 13 years.
THE BIGGEST SCHOLARSHIP
In January 2009, Serena Williams reached the singles and doubles final at the Australian Open. This feat allowed the powerful player to reach $30 million in career scholarships, becoming the richest female athlete in history, ahead of Swedish golfer Annika Sorenstam. In response to this announcement, she remembers her first check for $240, pocketed after losing in the first round of qualifying in Quebec City in 1995. She will end her career with more than $135 million in her bank account.
“I’M GOING TO DROP THIS BALL…”
At the 2009 US Open, the American lost both her temper and the semifinal when she verbally threatened a linesman.
At the 2009 U.S. Open, the American lost both her temper and the semifinal she was playing in Clijsters when she verbally threatened a linesman who had called a foot foul against her.
“I swear I’ll shove the ball all the way down your **** throat,” Williams yelled at him.
Serena had already been penalized earlier in this match, after breaking a racket. For these hateful remarks, the chair umpire punishes her for a second time, which at the same time gives the victory to the Belgian.
THE FIRST “SERENA SLAM”
Unlike the German Steffi Graf, Serena Williams has never won the four Grand Slam tournaments in the same year. But she has achieved a similar feat on two occasions. In 2002-2003, then in 2015-2016, she won four titles in a row. The first time, she won in order at Roland-Garros, Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open. A feat of arms that will be nicknamed the “Serena Slam”.
A MODERN ERA RECORD
The 23rd major title of his career.
The planet does not know it yet, but Serena Williams is pregnant with her daughter Olympia when she wins, in 2017, the 23rd major title of her career, against none other than her sister Venus. She then overtook Graf and found herself one length behind Australian Margaret Court, who however won part of her 24 trophies before the start of the modern era, in 1968, when professionals acquired the right to play tournaments. of the Grand Slam.