Serena Williams burst into tears following her career-ending defeat at the US Open.
Williams announced last month that she would quit tennis after her 21st and final appearance at Flushing Meadows. Her campaign started with victories over Danka Kovinic and Anett Kontaveit, but she was powerless to stop Ajla Tomljanovic as the 29-year-old Croatian secured a 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 win in the third round.
It brought the curtain down on a remarkable career for Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, who couldn't hold back the tears during an interview on court following her defeat.
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"Oh my God, thank you so much, you guys were amazing today. I tried, Alja just played a little bit better," Williams began, already fighting back the tears. "Thank you Daddy, I know you're watching. Thanks Mom. Oh my God," Williams continued, tears starting to flow.
"I just thank everyone that's here, that's been on my side, so many year, decades, oh my gosh literally decades. But it all started with my parents and they deserve everything so I'm really grateful for them."
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Williams then gave a special mention to her sister and inspiration, Venus, for her role in a career that has spanned over two decades. "I wouldn't be Serena if it wasn't [for] Venus, so, thank you, Venus. She's the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed," she said.
Despite her emotional speech, Williams insisted they were "happy tears."
She added: "It's been a fun ride, it's been most incredible ride and journey I've ever been in my life. And I'm just so grateful to every single person that's ever said 'go Serena' in life. I'm just so grateful because it got me here."
However, when asked whether it was truly her final appearance, the 40-year-old did leave the door ajar to a possible return to the court in the future.
She said: "I'm literally playing my way into this and getting better. I should've started sooner this year! I don't think so, but you never know. I don't know."
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