With one final twirl, Serena Williams seemingly waved farewell to tennis Friday night following her third-round loss to Ajla Tomljanović at the U.S. Open.
Many fans dreaded the sight of Williams leaving the court in defeat since the 23-time Grand Slam champion announced in early August she would be “evolving away” from the game. However, Williams, an ultimate competitor, seemed to offer a glimmer of hope that her career may not be over shortly after her loss.
When asked in her post-match interview if she would contemplate coming back, Williams smiled and replied, “I don’t think so, but you never know. I don’t know.”
While the icon’s answer may have come in the emotion of the moment, there were likely those hoping Williams will eventually decide to hold off on leaving the sport she’s dominated for 20-plus years. But, as it turns out, she indeed appears to be setting her sights on the future ahead.
Williams suggested as much when she was asked during her post-match press conference if there was any reconsideration on her retirement. She was also asked what would it take for her to come back after she appeared to indicate to the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd she might still have more to give.
“I don’t know. I’m not thinking about that,” said Williams, who turns 41 in 24 days. “I always did love Australia, though [smiling]. But yeah, 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, like, 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.”
As Williams eluded, it’s been a challenging year since she made her return less than three months ago from a torn hamstring she sustained at Wimbledon last June. After winning a doubles match at a Wimbledon 2022 tune-up tournament in June, Williams was eliminated in the first-round of The Championships by Harmony Tan.
In what was just her seventh singles match of 2022, Williams’s curtain call gave fans around the world one last glimpse of the revered champion on one of the sport’s biggest stages. Her hard-fought match against Tomljanović lasted three hours and four minutes, marking the longest U.S. Open match in Williams’s career.
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