NEW YORK – Like the champion, Serena Williams stole five match points in the final. In the end it wasn’t enough.
Perhaps the most awarded player of all time, Williams ended his tennis career at the 2022 US Open on Friday night.
Adjla Tomljanovic won 7-5 6-7(4) 6-5 in front of a sold out enthusiastic crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, a familiar venue where Williams has tied a record of six U.S. Open titles. Won 1 3rd round match.
After winning an Open Era record 23 Grand Slam titles, the 40-year-old Williams will leave the game with some record numbers.
In terms of strictly Hologic WTA Tour titles, Martina Navratilova leads the way with 167, followed by Chris Evert (157), Stephanie Graf (107), Court (92) and Williams with 73.
But beyond simple numbers, Williams is credited with changing the game for women.
In response to tributes from Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka and many others, she said in New York, “I don’t think I took the time to feel the impact.” There isn’t much to meditate or think about, and you will soon have plenty of time to do it all.
“I never thought I would be so influential. I was just a girl trying to play tennis in an era where I could be this influential and have a voice. It was so real because I do what I do.
Tennis today is arguably deeper than ever, and players aren’t playing as many matches as they used to. Still, despite several extended sabbaticals, Serena Jameka Williams’ accomplishments rank among her sport’s best: in her 27-year-long professional career, she did the following:
- With 73 WTA-level titles, he ranks fifth all-time and number one among active players.
- From 2002 to 2017, he won 8 different No. 1’s for a total of 319 weeks, making him the 3rd all-time winner.
- He is the latest player to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously, twice in 2002-03 and 2014-15.
- Finished with an overall game record of 858-156 (.846). She is also 367-56 at the Grand Slams and 108-15 at the US Open.
- She has earned over $94 million in prize money, more than any woman in tennis history.
- Won 4 Olympic gold medals and 3 doubles.
“[There’s] For me, there is no happiness on this topic,” wrote Selina in a first-person essay for Vogue magazine. I am here to tell you that I am evolving away from and towards other things that are important to me.”
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18-time Grand Slam singles champion Chris Evert has put together an extraordinary career for Williams.
“For me, Ebert said after Williams withdrew from the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, ‘Her legacy is already sealed.
“She is Margaret Court’s [all-time] record [of 24], it doesn’t matter. She is always the greatest of all. “
Here’s some more context:
From Williams’ first major win at the US Open in September 1999 to the Australian Open in January 2017, Serena has won 23 majors and Venus seven. His 18 players in the rest of the tennis world have won a total of 40.
This does not include Williams’ additional 13 major final appearances.
Together they have won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles.Incredibly, they I never have Lost the final. In addition, they each won three Olympic gold medals and one bronze medal.
They faced each other 31 times and Serena held a 19-12 advantage. Nine games were Grand Slam finals.
A lot of attention has been focused on Serena’s attempt to match the court record, but consider the quality of her recent near misses.
Williams was 35 years and 124 days old when she won the 2017 Australian Open, making her the oldest female winner of a major. She then reached her four Grand Slam finals. At Wimbledon 2019, Serena surpassed Navratilova’s record with her 37 days and her 291, becoming the oldest female major her finalist.
She was almost 38 when she lost to Bianca Andreescu in the US Open final later that year. Roger Federer, who has an illustrious career similar to Williams’s, has reached only one major final at the age of 36, losing to Novak Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final.
Against Tomljanovic, Williams was aiming to become the oldest woman to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam in the Open Era.
Her sustained longevity is all the more amazing because of the long absence she endured.
In 2003, Williams underwent serious knee surgery and missed eight months. Seven years later, she suffered a hematoma and a pulmonary embolism and was out for nearly a year. A hamstring injury sustained at Wimbledon in 2021 forced her to miss the rest of the year.
In the end, Williams won seven Australian Open and Wimbledon titles, six US Opens and three French Opens. Only Navratilova (his nine at Wimbledon) has won more Slam titles in one event.
And let’s not forget that it was her sister, Serena, who provided the blueprint for her success as she won the US Open in 1999 at the age of 17. Selena became the first African-American to win her singles title in the majors. Since Altair Gibson in 1958.
A year ago she provided another example of Venus.
“This was like 1998 in Sydney,” Venus said of the two-week evening. “Selena was playing a top player, losing 6-1, 5-0. She was fighting like there was no tomorrow, like it was the last day on earth. I was not that kind of fighter.
“After that, I became a fighter too. That’s what I got from her game.”
Not afraid of drama, Williams closed the final act after presenting a memorable match to a sold-out crowd. They thanked her with her long standing ovation and tears welled up in her eyes.
Finally, more than three hours after Tomljanovic scored his sixth match point, Williams looked tired. She served with her 5-3 lead in both sets, but somehow both escaped her.
When the final forehand found the net, she approached it and shook hands with Tomljanovic. She waved her hands around the stadium and put her hands over her heart.
“Thank you, Dad, I know you’re watching,” Williams said in an interview on Court.
Her voice cracked and her tears came out faster.
“Without Venus, I wouldn’t be Serena,” she continued. “The only reason Serena Williams existed is her.
“It was a fun ride.”