Serena Williams is getting ready to retire from tennis at the major where it all started after a dazzling 27-year professional career that saw her rise to become one of the best players of all time.
Serena Williams is getting ready to retire from tennis at the major where it all started after a dazzling 27-year professional career that saw her rise to become one of the best players of all time. The 40-year-old sports legend put an end to speculation about her future earlier this month by announcing that the “countdown” to her retirement had begun and that her final Grand Slam performance would be at the US Open in New York the following week. Life requires us to make the decision to go in a different direction at some point, according to Williams. “When you love something so much, that time is always difficult.
“But now the timer has started. I have to put my attention toward becoming a mother, pursuing my spiritual objectives, and finding a new, equally captivating Serena. I’m going to enjoy these upcoming weeks.”
This announcement set the tone for Williams’ dramatic goodbye, as she defeated Martina Hingis in the 1999 US Open final to win the first of her 23 Grand Slam singles titles.
That game-changing triumph proved what had been clear ever since Williams’ professional debut four years prior: that she and sister Venus were two of the top players in women’s tennis.
Williams won mixed doubles championships at Wimbledon and the US Open in 1998, but her first singles Grand Slam didn’t come until 1999.
Her victory in the 1999 singles final would set the stage for the most dominant career of any woman in the Open era, with her 23 Grand Slam victories coming in second only to Margaret Court’s 24.
Williams has amassed a collection of records that almost certainly won’t ever be broken, even though she’s unlikely to win a record-equaling 24th Grand Slam singles trophy after next week.
Williams is the only player, male or female, to have won three separate Grand Slams six times or more, with seven Australian Open singles titles, seven Wimbledon trophies, and six US Open titles.
She has won a total of 39 Grand Slam trophies, including 23 singles victories, two mixed doubles titles, and 14 women’s doubles titles.
Her longevity is unrivalled as well. She held the number one spot for the last time in 2017 after having held it for the first time in 2002, a period of just under 15 years.
The time between Williams’ 1999 US Open victory and the 2017 Australian Open in Melbourne, when she was expecting her daughter Olympia, was 17 years and 139 days. Williams also holds the record for the longest time between her first and last Grand Slam victories.
Williams has also amassed four Olympic gold medals: one singles gold at the 2012 London Games, held at Wimbledon, and three as a doubles player with sister Venus in 2000, 2008, and 2012.
Only three other athletes—Steffi Graf, Andre Agassi, and Rafael Nadal—have won an Olympic gold while completing the “Golden Slam” of all four major tournaments.
The most sought-after ticket in town is to see Williams say goodbye to tennis in New York.
The first three nights of the competition were sold out as a result of the announcement of her retirement among supporters. Since early August, secondary ticket markets have recorded a 34% increase in ticket prices.
It’s unlikely that Williams will be able to continue her Grand Slam career past the opening round of the competition the following week. A 24th Grand Slam title has been referred to by Williams herself as “fan dream.”
This month, she said, “I get that. “A good daydream, indeed. However, I’m not searching for a solemn, on-court moment. I’m the worst person in the world at saying goodbye.”
Williams’ most recent outcomes show that the pessimism is justified.
Williams fell to Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-4 in Toronto’s first match following the news of her retirement.
The current US Open champion Emma Raducanu, a British youngster who was born three years after Williams’ maiden Grand Slam triumph in 1999, destroyed her 6-4, 6-0 in her following match in Cincinnati.
Williams is not anticipated to mount a sustained challenge, thus Iga Swiatek of Poland, the current world number one, will be the focus of attention in the women’s draw.
Prior to winning on clay in Stuttgart and Rome on the way to her second Slam singles championship at the French Open, the 21-year-old was the best player in women’s tennis earlier this year, racking up victories at the Qatar Open, Indian Wells Open, and Miami Open.
During the North American hardcourt season, Swiatek has had difficulty regaining that supremacy, as evidenced by his early exits from the Cincinnati Masters and Canadian Open.