Serena Williams’ exit was like her career — fighting to the end


All of the celebrity tribute and voiceover videos were artificial and junk compared to the audience’s admiration for Serena Williams, the pure roaring waterfall of thunderous applause at Arthur Ashe Stadium. It came in a full-throat cascade for the greatest female tennis player of all time, for the gallant thrust of her game, and for the breadth of her now-perfected dominance. had too many emotions to express.

It’s a long and sometimes controversial journey with a range of hurdles from chippy kid to all-time champion who radicalized one of the whitest and most enthusiastic sports in her existence. It’s been a journey. She won her first US Open title in 1999 at the age of 17, beginning a modern record of 23 Grand Slam titles. On Friday night, when she was just three weeks away from her 41st birthday, she discovered her competitive spirit and the depths of her gut. With her trademark intensity she fought three sets and, if tired, lost five matches with a series of huge cuts at her tennis ball, robbing her of her points. She lost to Ajla Tomljanovic, 7-5, 6-7 (7-4), 6-1. Arguably her last major was her championship bout. Just two days ago, she upset the No. 2 player in the world, Annette, her match.

Retirement from tennis can be complicated, as Serena Williams proves

“I tried,” she said briefly afterwards.

In the history of gaming, perhaps no game has ever tried harder or longer.

“I mean, there are so many things to remember. Like fighting. I’m such a fighter. I don’t know,” she said. “I feel like it really brought something to tennis. And it brought something. A different look, a fist pump, a crazy intensity. Obviously passion, I think, is a really good word.”

It’s been a complex career spanning 27 years and difficult to encompass.

Her influence can be partially explained by two bracketed images. On Aug. 9, Williams called her impending retirement or “evolution” in less painful terms: 24 years ago, her 1999 breakthrough year for Williams, Vogue’s ” Cover Girl’ was Carolyn her Murphy. Carolyn Murphy was a typically skinny, flaxen-haired supermodel who wore a size 4. Williams has redefined female beauty with a new template. She defies tennis’ traditional limitations while prying it open to a more diverse audience. She has made her four appearances in Vogue magazine and is the first black female athlete to appear on its pages. It was no small feat for the powerful black female athlete to make glossy magazines her home organ. Not to mention the showcase of accessories she happily draped over her muscles, down to the diamond crusts of her boxer sneakers.

“I am grateful to be able to have that impact,” she said early in the tournament. I was just a girl trying to play tennis in an era where I could be strong and have a voice. doing it like the real thing [as] myself. I think people can really relate to that. “

Williams’ career on and off the court has been a quest for power. The massive windup of her stroke came with control. Her deep precision allowed her to hone her lines. Throughout her triumphant ups and downs, she made no apologies for her towering temper and hard-charging game and voice, and her origins in the hardscrabble-cracked, strafed public courts of Compton, California. I hadn’t — and I did — what I did. “I love who I am. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.”

Anything she did “wrong” or out of step with tennis tradition was inevitably magnified, criticized and scrutinized. It did so quickly and made a huge statement about ideas about what tennis clothing should look like and how loudly women could compete. It was Williams who put her own pressure on tennis with the potential of her competitive personality. Enjoyed all the benefits and took none of the disadvantages from She avoided the burnout, disillusionment and overplay injuries that plague most young champions.

And finally, she has not only become the most enduring champion of our time, but also the most respected. I was driven by a loving crowd in quantity and quality no champion had ever heard. Even in her longest standing tennis observer, she had never heard such applause.”This is not tennis noise,” said commentator Mary Carrillo.

The Serena effect changed every aspect of women’s tennis

Williams could feel the welcome in her chest, she said. Told.

The crescendo escalated as Williams battled Tomljanovic. In one game in the second set, she let her opponent fight for 15 minutes just to hold serve. When Williams took the set, she let out a guttural scream of her own.

But in the final game siege, a game that lasted 22 points, she alternated between powerful strokes and surges to the net as the match entered the third hour.

The final shot is a tired forehand that cuts off the white net tape. And suddenly it worked.

Later, while thanking family and friends in an on-court interview, she burst into tears in a whirlwind of conflicting emotions. “Do not know.”

And she thanked the crowd who finally learned to appreciate her. I do,” she said.

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