Serena Williams bowed out of the US Open and headed into retirement on Friday after a battling loss to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic, while world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev crushed the giant-killing dreams of Chinese youngster Wu Yibing with an emphatic victory.
On another night of searing emotion in the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center’s main Arthur Ashe Stadium, 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams finally met her match in Tomljanovic, losing 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1 in an attritional slug-fest lasting more than 3 hours.
The defeat was almost certainly Williams’ last ever appearance in Grand Slam singles event, the final act of a 27-year professional career that saw the 40-year-old American become a sporting and cultural icon who many believe is the greatest women’s tennis player in history.
“It’s been a fun ride,” a clearly emotional Williams said in an on-court interview following her loss. “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. You got me here.”
Although Williams has not definitively announced her retirement, she said in a Vogue magazine essay last month that she would “evolve” away from tennis after the US Open.
Williams on Friday said that she was excited by the prospect of her life after tennis.
“I’m ready to, like, be a mom, explore a different version of Serena,” she said. “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.”
Golf superstar Tiger Woods and former US first lady Michelle Obama were among a legion of admirers who paid tribute to Williams following her US Open exit.
“@serenawilliams you’re literally the greatest on and off the court,” Woods wrote on Twiter. “Thank you for inspiring all of us to pursue our dreams.”
Obama saluted Williams’ rise from the gritty Los Angeles neighborhood of Compton to the pinnacle of her sport.
“Congrats on amazing career, @SerenaWilliams! 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,” Obama wrote on Twitter.
In other matches, Tunisia’s fifth-seeded Ons Jabeur made it to the fourth round at the 10th attempt with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 31st seed Shelby Rogers.
“I know that I don’t play the best on hard courts, but it’s always amazing to see how I’m improving, how I’m pushing my limits,” Jabeur said.
US teenager Coco Gauff reached the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of compatriot Madison Keys.
In the men’s draw, defending champion Medvedev ended the run of China’s Wu to set-up a blockbuster last-16 clash against Nick Kyrgios.
Medvedev eased past world No. 174 Wu, who came through qualifying, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2.
Medvedev, who won his maiden Grand Slam title in New York last year, is delighted with his form as he approaches the business end of the tournament.
“If you ask me what I could improve, I don’t see many things,” he said. “Maybe a little bit less double-faults, but that’s if we’re trying to dig somewhere... If I continue this way, I have good opportunities to do something big.”
Germany forward Thomas Mueller on Thursday said that his country’s second successive first-round exit from the FIFA World Cup was an “absolute catastrophe,” which teammate Kai Havertz likened to “watching a horror movie.” Germany beat Costa Rica, but Spain’s defeat to Japan meant Germany finished third in Group E behind Spain, with the teams equal on four points and the positions decided only by goal difference. “It is unbelievably bitter for us because our result would have been enough,” Mueller said. “It’s a feeling of powerlessness.” Mueller was part of the 2014 World Cup-winning team and was also in the side who were
Taiwanese-American basketballer Jeremy Lin, who plays for a Chinese team, was fined 10,000 yuan (US$1,400) for “inappropriate remarks” on social media about quarantine facilities ahead of a game, the China Basketball Association said yesterday. Lin, who plays for the Loong Lions Basketball Club, made “inappropriate remarks about quarantine hotel-related facilities” where the team stayed on Wednesday ahead of a game, the association said. It said that “caused adverse effects on the league and the competition area.” The Chinese Communist Party is trying to crush criticism of the human cost and disruption of its “zero COVID-19” strategy, which has confined millions of people to
Normally, it would be horrible news to soccer fans anywhere that their team’s star player was injured. Yet even as they endured an anguished wait for a Neymar-less Brazil to score in their 1-0 win over Switzerland on Monday, some Brazilians found it hard to miss the injured superstar, who has promised to dedicate his first FIFA World Cup goal to far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Watching the match in a packed bar in central Rio de Janeiro, where fans decked out in yellow and green waited nervously for what turned out to be the lone goal — scored in the 83rd
‘ASIA CAN WIN’: Japan manager Hajime Moriyasu said their victories at the tournament so far against top sides show that Asian teams can win on the world stage Japan erupted in cheers and tears after the national team’s 2-1 win over Spain, with crowds in the early hours of yesterday in the nation packing public viewing areas shrieking with joy as they stunned another global soccer power at the FIFA World Cup. Japan, who had also shocked Germany in their opener in Qatar, finished top of Group E to reach the last 16, a stage where they have faltered three times before. They are to play 2018 runners-up Croatia for a place in the quarter-finals. “Doha Delights Again!” one newspaper headlined its online edition, evoking memories of what the media called