Serena Williams’ incredible career comes to an end at the US Open
When I first wrote “professionally” about Serena Williams, back when Bleacher Report was still an onslaught of slideshows, I called her overrated. I was just out of college, and my terrible, awful, awful take was that she didn’t earn as much as she could. That was over ten years ago, and it was at a time when Roger Federer was waltzing towards the Wimbledon titles.
I couldn’t understand why the best player by far didn’t win every time she stepped onto the court. Serena was in this rarefied tune that if she lost, it was less about someone beating her, and more about her beating herself. Her singles winning percentage is .850, and we’ve seen her dominate so much and so often that after thrilling the US Open crowd with a victory over No. 2 Anett Kontaveit earlier this week, she was favored for Friday. match against Ajla Tomljanovic.
If I hadn’t watched Serena and Venus’ first-round doubles loss on Thursday night, I would have assumed Friday was a formality. Whether it was Tuesday’s three-set victory or the pressure that comes with having all eyes and hopes on your every shot, it was obvious that Serena was beyond. exhaustion even trying to cover his own half of the court.
On Friday, she put in a valiant effort, winning set two in a tiebreaker, and even then you could still talk to Serena as she fought her way through set three and round four.
Alas, that was not to be the case, and as sad as it was to see the GOAT walk away from the game, I also felt a sense of relief for Serena. She won her first Grand Slam in 1999, when I was 14. I’m 36 now. I barely remember a time when she wasn’t playing tennis, and it’s safe to assume that Serena barely remembers a time when she didn’t have a racquet in her hand.
Now a woman, to whom the doors open before she even thinks of going through them, can do whatever she wants. Any avenue she wishes to explore is available. Fashion, business, broadcasting, acting, surfing, writing, horse riding, disc golf, biochemistry, more motherhood – her future is literally carte blanche.
She made Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama a fan girl, and considering the things these two black women have accomplished, the potential scope of Serena’s post-playing career is exciting. Its influence stretched beyond the confines of Flushing Meadows, Rolland Garros, Melbourne Park and the All England Club years ago. She can no longer be reduced to a mere professional athlete.
It’s not a retreat, it’s a rite of passage to a place few of his GOAT peers can reach. Serena doesn’t just represent what a black woman can accomplish in tennis. She represents what a black girl from Compton can do for a living.
After the game, through tears, Williams tried to put the indescribable into words.
“It was a fun ride. It was the most amazing run and trip I have ever done.
While her next steps may not elicit the same adrenaline rush that comes with crushing a winner or lifting a trophy, the impact she will undoubtedly have on young women color (and in general) is sure to trigger tsunamis of endorphins.
The race is not over, it has only just begun. Congratulations on an incredible career, Serena. I can’t wait to see which area you will dominate next.