“The fist pumps, the just crazy intensity, and so much love” – Serena Williams on how to be remembered
After her final US Open loss, Serena Williams said she wants to be remembered for being a fighter, a quality she showed plenty of during her third round loss on Friday
In the end, it all just fell a little short. A three-hour plus high-intensity battle against a player younger than her by over a decade; cheered on by probably the loudest crowd ever witnessed in tennis history. Serena Williams‘ final match, for now, had all the trademarks of her legendary career.
While the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion does not leave New York with a trophy, she did end her career fighting her guts out and left Flushing Meadows with a heartful of gratitude for her career and the support that she has received over the years.
“There’s so many things to be remembered by…” the 40-year-old said in her press conference. “Like the fight. I’m such a fighter. I feel like I really brought something, and bring something, to tennis. The different looks, the fist pumps, the just crazy intensity. I think that obviously the passion I think is a really good word. Just continuing through ups and downs. I could go on and on. But I just honestly am so grateful that I had this moment and that I’m Serena, so…”.
Just so much support, so much love. It was really amazing and overwhelming.Serena Williams
“It was some really great moments today. Not today, but this week, has been really great. Just so much support, so much love. It was really amazing and overwhelming. And I just feel like the whole crowd was really wanting to push me past the line. I’m so thankful and grateful for that. I think honestly what I’ll remember most is that my level was coming back. I think I’m really grateful for that. It’s great to be playing at such a high level, somehow improving. I don’t know how at my age. I think that’s a really good memory for me.”
Williams also expressed gratitude to her family and her support team, with a special shout out to her parents (mom Oracene was in the stands) and sister Venus (also in the stands), during her on-court interview.
“Thank you, Daddy. I know you’re watching. Thanks, Mom (tearing up)” she had said on the court. Just I thank everyone that’s here, that’s been on my side so many years, decades. But it all started with my parents. And they deserve everything. So I’m really grateful for them. These are happy tears, I guess ; I don’t know. And I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you, Venus. She’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed, so… I don’t know. Just everyone from Jill to Isha to my sister Lyn, to my husband, Olympia, to Jarmere… Everyone in that box there today. Alexis, Kristy, Derrick (phonetic).”
Her legions of fans, known as “Rena’s Army”, around the world, who cheered Williams on through a career that spanned 25 years on the tour were also acknowledged during her on-court speech.
“It’s been a fun ride. It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on in my life. I’m just so grateful to every single person that’s ever said, Go, Serena, in their life. I’m just so grateful. Yeah, you got me here”.
“I was just getting better with each week” – Serena Williams
Despite the loss, Serena Wiliams said she was happy with her level of play during the third round loss and it showed her that she is still capable of competing at the elite level, something that made it harder to quit the sport. She lead 5-3 in the first set before losing 7-5. She won the second 7-6 and saved five match points at the end.
“It makes it easier, but also it makes it a little bit harder. I was just getting better with each week. I think that is a good note because I know that if I started sooner or played more, then I would still be competing at such a top level. But I don’t know. I think I can only take positives from my career,” Williams said in her press conference.
Still refusing to confirm if the US Open would be her final event, Williams teased about possibly playing in Australia but added that she was ready to take on the role of a full-time mom.
Just not sure if that was my last moment or not. Making it a different moment I think is much better. It takes a lot of work to get here. Clearly I’m still capable.Serena Williams
“I don’t know. I’m not thinking about that,” the six-time US Open champion when asked if she would play another tournament after the US Open. “I always did love Australia, though (smiling). But you know what, I’ve come a long way since last year at Wimbledon. Just not sure if that was my last moment or not. Making it a different moment I think is much better. It takes a lot of work to get here. Clearly I’m still capable. It takes a lot more than that. I’m ready to be a mom, explore a different version of Serena. Technically in the world I’m still super young, so I want to have a little bit of a life while I’m still walking.”
“I’m a super hands-on mom. I’ve been with her almost every single day of her life, minus two days or three days. It’s been really hard on her, my career. So it will be nice just to do that and spend some time with her, do things that I never really have done or had an opportunity to do. I have such a bright future ahead of me.”
While some athletes may have insecurities about ending their career, Serena said that the lockdown enforced by the pandemic and her year-long injury sabbatical has prepared her for life after tennis.
“Also I’m kind of at an advantage because COVID happened, Williams continued. I think everyone shut down for a year. We kind of got to see what our lives would be like if we weren’t playing tennis. Then I got injured last year, so I took off literally a year. So I got to see, again what every day would be like to wake up and not have to go to the gym. I think I’m definitely probably going to be karaoke-ing tomorrow”.
“Just like everything else she has done in her career, or in her life for that matter, Serena Williams is leaving the sport on her own terms and in her own style. Whether or not she plays another tournament or two in her evolution away from the sport, you can be rest assured that she is going to lead the rest of her life the only way she knows – in Serena style.”