Serena goes down fighting, looks forward to life after tennis

·3-min read
AP - Frank Franklin II

Serena Williams says she is looking forward to a life beyond tennis after her hopes of a 24th Grand Slam victory at the US Open ended in defeat on Friday. Williams, who turns 41 later this month, lost her third round match to Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion said afterwards that while she was satisfied with her performances in New York, she was already eyeing her post-tennis life.

"It takes a lot of work to get here. Clearly I'm still capable," Williams said. "It takes a lot more than that.

"I'm ready to, like, be a mom, explore a different version of Serena.

"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."

While Williams said she hopes to remain involved in tennis in some capacity, in the near-term she plans to spend more time with daughter Olympia, 5.

I'm still super young, so I want to have a little bit of a life while I'm still walking

"It's been really hard on her, my career," she said. "So it will be nice just to do that and spend some time with her, do things that I never really have done or had an opportunity to do."

Williams admitted however she was uncertain about what role tennis would play in her life.

"I've had so many amazing moments, that I don't see a future without it," she said. "What's my involvement? I have no idea."

Williams has stopped just short of definitively announcing her retirement, and once again deflected a question about whether there was any "wiggle room" in her apparent desire to hang up her racket.

"I'm not thinking about that. I always did love Australia, though," she quipped in a reference to next January's Australian Open, a tournament she has won seven times.

Going down in style

Earlier, Williams had poured everything into one last stand in front of a ferociously partisan crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium during her three-hour battle with Tomljanovic.

After levelling the match in a marathon 1hr 23min second set, the veteran's resistance was finally broken in the third set as Tomljanovic raced into a 5-1 lead.

Even then, Williams summoned every last drop of her fighting spirit in an attempt to stave off defeat, saving five match points in the seventh game before finally succumbing.

Afterwards, Williams saluted the crowd, welling up as Tina Turner's anthem "Simply the Best" belted out around the stands.

"It's been a fun ride," Williams said. "It's been the most incredible ride and journey I've ever been on, I mean, in my life."

Michelle Obama sends a salute

Former first lady Michelle Obama was among those sending congratulations to the departing star.

"Congrats on an 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," tweeted Obama.

"I'm proud of you, my friend and I can't wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents."

Golf ace Tiger Woods, along with Oprah Winfrey, LeBron James and Magic Johnson also voiced their admiration.