It was a harmless question posed by the undefeated Grand Slam semi-finalist Serena Williams (39) It was brought up late Thursday afternoon. Where did the many mistakes in her game come from? 3-6, 4-6 defeats Opposite Naomi Osaka (Japan). Williams looked at the office in the interview room, hesitating. She finally said, “I don’t know.” Tears flowed, and it was all too much for the greatest player of the time. She slowly got up from her chair and said briefly: I finished translator either: “I’m done today” or: “That’s it.”
What triggered the counter-question: “Is this it?” Was it the farewell performance – at least in Australia – of the woman who shaped and dominated women’s tennis for two decades? Shortly before Williams left the less controversial talk in the media, the topic was discussed as well – not least for reasons Sad moments happen when Williams leaves the Road Laver Arena. Williams had waved to the fans at the main court, pausing for a while as they left and then placing his right hand over their heart. The 39-year-old said, “If I ever say goodbye, I won’t tell anyone in advance.” He added: Was it goodbye? I do not know.”
No wonder Williams’ long career is nearing an end – after more than two decades on a treadmill of the traveling circus, shortly before his 40th birthday. And after all the twists and turns in an unprecedented profession, after life-threatening diseases such as pulmonary embolism, crazy comeback and always new battle against new generations. Former world number one Chris Evert said, “She doesn’t have to prove anything to herself or anyone else. She has always been a living legend. But she has always strived to achieve great goals over and over again.”
A scandal ruling on Williams in the 2018 US Open final
The biggest goal was to set the record for a Grand Slam in Australia’s Margaret Stadium, the highest number of 24 Grand Slam titles. Williams won No. 23 four years ago, at the 2017 Australian Open, and she was already pregnant. From this point onwards, the drama with and around Williams spanned spectacularly, followed by the birth of Olympia’s daughter, a birth with grave complications. Williams was back in the 2018 season, and since then he has played in eleven Grand Slam tournaments and has been in the finals or semi-finals six times.
But she no longer holds a Grand Slam cup in her hands, not least because someone like Osaka has shown her limits. Frustration over a lost intergenerational duel with the Japanese (“my role model is Serena”) culminated in one of the biggest scandals in tennis history in 2018, in the US Open final – Williams insulted Spanish referee Carlos Ramos, calling him a “thief” and a “cheater” because he had warned her several times and even cut her into a preliminary match.
The desperate search for Grand Slam No.24 title
What happened now in Melbourne, the scene of seven successful title missions, was a reflection of Williams’ recent past. The 39-year-old had proven her immunity in the first round of the title. But at crucial moments, the prospect of winning the desperate 24th title has regularly crippled – so far in the semifinals against Osaka. “It was a big day of failure for me,” Williams said frustrated. “So many easy mistakes, so many missed opportunities.” After a lightning start and a 2–0 lead, she lost seven of the next eight matches and fought way back when everything seemed to lose. Then only to concede the last eight points of the game.
And then, it was already evening in Melbourne when Williams sent another greeting to Australia and her supporters there via social networks – an out of the ordinary for sure. It was an honor to play in front of the fans. It is also a shame “not to do it better for you”. Then came these lines: “I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.”