On Friday night, tennis champion Serena Williams played what could be the last match of her magnificent career. Williams lost the final game she played at Arthur Ashe Stadium to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović. The 23-Grand Slam champion was interviewed after the loss, but her focus was on the gratitude she felt towards her family, particularly her sister, Venus Williams and her father Richard Williams, who trained both of his daughters as tennis players.
“Thank you, Daddy. I know you’re watching,” she said, growing emotional. “Thanks, Mom. Oh, my God…I thank everyone that’s here, that’s been on my side so many years, decades. Oh, my gosh, literally decades. But it all started with my parents. And they deserve everything. So I’m really grateful for them.”
As Williams teared up, she said that they were “happy tears.”
She continued, speaking to her sister in the audience: “I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you, Venus. She’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed.”
The champion went on to thank her husband Alexis Ohanian and her daughter Olympia, and of course, all of her fans who crowded the stadium. Williams announced her planned retirement from tennis last month, and it was expected that her send off at the US Open would be highly attended.
“It’s been a fun ride,” she added. “It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on, I mean, 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…You got me here.”
People have questioned if Williams will really leave competition in the sport for good and she has left the door slightly open.
“For me, tennis has been such a huge part of my life, I can’t imagine not being involved in tennis,” she said. “I don’t know what that involvement is yet. But I feel like it’s provided me with so many opportunities. Through that, it’s provided other people with so many amazing opportunities. I think it means so much to me in my life, and I’ve had so many amazing moments, that I don’t see a future without it.”
Aimée Lutkin is the weekend editor at ELLE.com. Her writing has appeared in Jezebel, Glamour, Marie Claire and more. Her first book, The Lonely Hunter, will be released by Dial Press in February 2022.