The Serena Williams era has come to an end -- at least for now.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion played what is expected to be her final professional tennis match on Friday at the US Open. She lost in the third round against Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1 in a thrilling affair. Williams staved off five match points before eventually losing and received a fitting ovation from the crowd at the end
In August, Williams announced in a first-person essay for Vogue magazine that her tennis career was winding down, saying this year's US Open would probably be her final tournament. In the piece, she spoke about her desire to grow her family as a reason for her "evolution." Williams was visibly emotional during her postmatch interview.
"It's been a fun ride", Williams said. "It's been the most incredible ride and journey I've ever been on."
When asked if she would reconsider her "evolution," Williams responded, "I don't think so but you never know."
If Friday's match was indeed Williams' last match, she ends her tennis career as one of the sport's all-time greats. Her aforementioned 23 Grand Slam titles are the most by any player in the Open era (since 1968) and she trails only Margaret Court (24) for most of all time. Williams' on-court dominance has inspired the next generation of stars in women's tennis, including 18-year-old phenom Coco Gauff.
With Williams' likely final match in the books, several players congratulated her on a surefire Hall of Fame career.
Her incredible career made its mark on tennis history.— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) September 3, 2022
And yet her greatest contributions may be yet to come.
Thank you, @serenawilliams.
Your journey continues. #serena #USOpen https://t.co/0wDFfRN3Dq
Serena, THANK YOU. It is because of you I believe in this dream. The impact you've had on me goes beyond any words that can be put together and for that I say thank you, thank you, thank you, GOAT! pic.twitter.com/qeNZlC05WJ— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) September 3, 2022
I don't think anyone has enough words #ThankYouSerena— Samantha 黛莲 Crawford (@samcrawford18) September 3, 2022
Serena 💕— Alize Cornet (@alizecornet) September 3, 2022
Serena ❤️— Lisa Raymond (@lisaraymond73) September 3, 2022
I love you @serenawilliams It's been the pleasure of a lifetime to watch you become what you have. Can't wait to see what you do next. Thank you my old friend— andyroddick (@andyroddick) September 3, 2022
It has been an honor to watch Serena as a child, to play on the same Fed Cup team as a 17 year old, to compete against her on the biggest stage of our sport (and bring Beyoncé and Jay-Z to watch me), and as 🐐 do, finish her career years after mine. pic.twitter.com/4qoPKSnUBn— Vania King (@queen_v21) September 3, 2022
Thank you! #Serena 🐐🐐🐐— Patrick Mahomes II (@PatrickMahomes) September 3, 2022
Congrats on an amazing career, @SerenaWilliams!— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) September 3, 2022
How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time.
I'm proud of you, my friend-and I can't wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents. pic.twitter.com/VWONEMAwz3
.@SerenaWilliams, you're an inspiration, a champion of all time.— President Biden (@POTUS) September 3, 2022
Thank you for dreaming, daring, and proving that anything is possible.
.@serenawilliams you're literally the greatest on and off the court. Thank you for inspiring all of us to pursue our dreams. I love you little sis!!!!!!— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) September 3, 2022
serena 💐💐💐💐🐐🐐🐐🐐— Ja Morant (@JaMorant) September 3, 2022
Congratulations, Serena for an inspiring career! Cookie & I are so excited for you. I remember when we talked about you becoming an entrepreneur. Now, I look forward to watching you grow in business! @serenawilliams #Serena— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) September 3, 2022
It's been a joy watching greatness! Congrats Serena!— Derek Jeter (@derekjeter) September 3, 2022
Serena 🐐— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) September 3, 2022
I've been in my crib screaming LOUD AF for Serena!!!!!!! Im sick right now🤧— Trae Young (@TheTraeYoung) September 3, 2022
HIGH KEY HOPE THIS AINT THE LAST SERENA MATCH I EVER SEE AGAIN !!!! WE LOVE YOU QUEEN #GOAT— Jarvis Juice Landry (@God_Son80) September 3, 2022
Much respect to Serena the GOAT! Fought with a lot of heart. Something to be proud of!!! Enjoy retirement Champ ✊🏾— Calais Campbell (@CalaisCampbell) September 3, 2022
Serena fighting until the last point, always. You've given so much to tennis, and so much to womens sports. Thank you @serenawilliams— Alex Morgan (@alexmorgan13) September 3, 2022
Thank you @serenawilliams!! You've had me jumping off my couch and yelling "come on!!" too many times to count!! Grace, courage, poise, strength.. you got it all woman!! Thank you for always being YOU!!— Becky Hammon (@BeckyHammon) September 3, 2022
Thank you, Serena! 🐐— Seattle Storm (@seattlestorm) September 3, 2022