Serena Williams was emotional during her post-match interview in the sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium after her loss to Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round, thanking her family for their decades of support.

Williams ended up going down in a match that lasted three hours and seven minutes, with a 15-minute final game where Williams saved five match points illustrating her fighting spirit down to the last moments.

If this is her final US Open – which she was hesitant to confirm – she will finish with the most main draw wins ever at the tournament with 108, and her 23 grand slam titles are also the most of all-time.

Speaking on the court after Tomljanovic gladly ceded the floor to the legend, Williams turned her attention immediately to her family as she reflected on the journey to this point.

"Thank you, Daddy. I know you're watching," she said as she began to tear up. "Thanks, Mom… I thank everyone that's here, that's been on my side so many years, decades. Oh, my gosh, literally decades.

"But it all started with my parents – they deserve everything. So I'm really grateful for them. These are happy tears, I guess. I don't know.

"And I wouldn't be Serena if there wasn't Venus, so thank you, Venus. She's the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed."

She added: "It's been a fun ride. 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. I'm just so grateful."

When asked if this would definitely be her last US Open, Williams was hesitant due to how well she performed, and left the question unanswered.

"I mean, I'm literally playing my way into this and getting better – I should have started sooner this year," she said with a laugh.

"I don't think so, but you never know. I don't know."

Serena Williams' last US Open has come to an end in the third round, going down 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 against Ajla Tomlanovic on Friday night.

It was a rough start for Williams, getting her serve broken in the first game of the match, but she got it straight back with a break-to-love by utilising her stunning power.

While her power brought her some easy points, it was also her undoing at times, with 16 unforced errors in the first set compared to 10 winners.

After securing another break to go up 5-3, serving for the opening set, Williams could not finish it off, losing the next four games in a row as Tomljanovic found a way to extend points and turn them into grinding rallies.

Not disheartened, Williams came out on fire in the second set, ripping off the first four games, but Tomljanovic again fought back. From 5-2 down, the Australian surged to level things at 5-5 before forcing a tiebreaker.

In the tiebreaker, Williams worked her way to a 5-4 lead, and took two consecutive mini-breaks to send the crowd into raptures and the match to a deciding set.

But where world number two Anett Kontaveit folded in Williams' last match, Tomljanovic did not, responding instantly after having her serve broken in the opening game to take the next five in a row, with a chance to serve things out at 5-1.

The crowd tried to will the living legend back into the contest, saving the first five of Tomljanovic's match points as she refused to go down easily, but she was not able to convert either of her three break point opportunities in a final game that lasted nearly 15 minutes, ultimately going down on the sixth match point.

After a collective groan in the sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium, the crowd rose to their feet to pay their respect to the greatest women's tennis player of all time in her final outing at the US Open, as she treated the crowd to one more of her famous twirls at the grand slam she has won six times.

Data Slam: Six-time champion Serena leaves behind records that will stand the test of time

Williams finishes her US Open career with the seven more main draw wins than any other player, male or female. Her 108 wins leads Chris Evert (101), Jimmy Connors (98), Martina Navrilova (89) and Roger Federer (89).

She is also one of five players – along with Navrilova, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – to spend at least 300 weeks as the world number one, and her 23 career grand slam titles is the most of any player, leading Steffi Graf (22) and Nadal (22).


Williams – 49/51

Tomljanovic – 32/30


Williams – 11/7

Tomljanovic – 3/9 


Williams – 5/13

Tomljanovic – 8/13

Coco Gauff admitted it would be a "lifelong dream" to face Serena Williams at the US Open, in what is likely to be the latter's final tournament of a glittering career.

Gauff reached the second week at Flushing Meadows in the women's singles for the first time after cruising to a 6-2-6-3 win over Madison Keys on Friday.

The number 12 seed saw off her fellow American in composed fashion to book her place in the last 16, exceeding her previous best result at the US Open in 2019.

Gauff was largely in control against the number 20 seed Keys to deliver near-flawless performance, chasing a second grand slam final of the year after finishing as runner-up at the French Open to Iga Swiatek.

She will face China's Zhang Shuai in the next round, but when asked if she will watch Williams' match against Ajla Tomljanovic later in the day during her on-court interview, Gauff said she would, adding: "It's been amazing watching Serena's matches so far. I don't know when I'd be due to face her but that's the goal.

"It's been a lifelong dream of mine to do that. Five years ago yesterday I was watching Venus and Serena play here. It's crazy to be on this court now.

"I tried to flex to my friends that I had courtside seats, now I'm on the court!"

Should both remain in the tournament, Gauff and Williams would face each other in the semi-finals.

Gauff also paid tribute to Keys, and to the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium, saying: "[The win] means a lot to me... I missed my alarm and was so late. I was here until 9pm last night and lost a doubles match [with Jessica Pegula].

"Kudos to my team, they got me up for it.

"I wasn't sure how the crowd was going to go. We all love Madison... I'm good friends with her off the court, but having support here meant a lot."

Serena and Venus Williams saw hopes of one last US Open glory run together scuppered by a Czech pair who apologised for knocking out the American superstars.

The Williams sisters lost 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 against Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova on Arthur Ashe Stadium, with the doubles match given top billing in the New York night session.

Such scheduling had previously been unheard of, but such is the attention being foisted on the sisters that first-round doubles encounter was the match everyone wanted to see, knowing it could well be the last time the siblings play as a team.

Serena has indicated, albeit couched in somewhat vague terms, that this US Open will be her farewell to tennis. Venus, now 42, may follow suit and also retire from the sport.

While 40-year-old Serena remains in the singles, having beaten world number two Anett Kontaveit in round two to set up a Friday night clash with Ajla Tomljanovic, the dream of one more Flushing Meadows doubles title is over.

It was Czech-out time for the duo who have won 14 grand slam doubles titles together, and Hradecka said sorry to the partisan crowd for spoiling the party.

"I'm still in shock that we won, because we were playing for the first time with each other and I think we did a very good job," Hradecka said.

"I'm so sorry for you that we beat them, but we are so happy that we did it."

Hradecka had been planning on playing with Indian Sania Mirza, but an injury for Mirza put paid to that idea, meaning a new partner was required.

Noskova, 17, answered the 37-year-old Hradecka's call, and enjoyed a night to remember.

"Playing against the Williams sisters is a special moment for everybody, anytime," Noskova said.

"I was really lucky I could play with my doubles partner and we could win and pull out a good fight."

It was the Williams' first doubles match at a grand slam since the 2018 French Open, and their first at the US Open since 2014, and although it was a tight contest the younger pair just had the edge.

Neither sister gave an on-court interview or a press conference after the match, with all eyes now turning towards Serena's singles campaign, and the possibility of that extending deep into the second week.

Tennis great Roger Federer has congratulated outgoing 23-time major winner Serena Williams on an "incredible career".

The 41-year-old Swiss revealed in a video message posted by the ATP Tour that he stayed up as a teenager to watch Williams' maiden US Open triumph in 1999 and lavished praise on her impact in the sport.

Williams, 40, last month announced her intention to evolve out of tennis after the US Open, where she has remarkably progressed to the third round following her upset win over second seed Anett Kontaveit on Thursday.

"I wanted to congratulate you for a most incredible career," 20-time grand slam champion Federer said.

"You know what you've achieved. I know what you've done. You know what it is, it just beyond incredible.

"I know it's probably with mixed feelings you're leaving this wonderful sport that has given you everything and more. I wish you all the best with your family."

Williams has won six US Open titles during her decorated playing career, including her maiden Flushing Meadows triumph in 1999.

"I think back at '99 at the US Open when you played Martina Hingis, I stayed up late to watch you battle it out as that was the beginning to your incredible career that you've had ever since," Federer said.

"I think the future is going to be wonderful for you. I'm sure it is. Please return to tennis. The tennis community and family will always welcome you with open arms and always be happy to see you again, so please return.

"For now enjoy this moment, enjoy the US Open, enjoy everything that's coming this next couple of weeks even though it might be hard for you.

"But I'm thinking of you and all my respect. I wish you all the very best for your future. Take care Serena."

Federer has not played professional tennis since Wimbledon last year, but has not retired and the former world number one is hoping for a return to action soon.

Serena Williams and sister Venus were unable to advance past the first round of the doubles at the US Open, going down 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 against Czech duo Lucie Hradecka and Linda Noskova on Thursday.

It was the Williams' first doubles match at a grand slam since the 2018 French Open, and their first at the US Open since 2014, less than 24 hours after Serena's stunning upset of world number two Anett Kontaveit.

Leading 5-4 in the first set, the sisters had two opportunities to break and secure the first set, but ultimately let them slip, before going down in a competitive tiebreaker.

They were far from outclassed, winning 48 per cent (49-of-102) of the points in the opening set, and 45 per cent (33-of-74) in the second.

After going down 3-0 in the second frame, instead of rolling over, the Williams sisters fought back, pulling it back to 4-4, but that would be their last stand before dropping the next two games and the match.

There was no on-court interview for the Americans, although 17-year-old Noskova called it "a special moment" and said "I was really lucky" for the opportunity to play against her heroes.

Serena will continue her singles campaign in the third round on Saturday night against unseeded Australian Ajla Tomljanovic.

Serena Williams revealed how Tiger Woods encouraged her to return to tennis for one last glory mission after she powered into round three of the US Open.

Golf great Woods was on his feet and rapturously celebrating as Williams beat number two seed Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday night in New York.

He had been invited to sit in Williams' player box and shared conversations with Venus Williams as they watched Serena push past Kontaveit with a dynamic display, coming through 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

It was remarkable from the 40-year-old on court as she found an extra gear for the deciding set, teeing up a clash with Australian world number 46 Ajla Tomjlanovic.

Williams has firmly indicated this will be her final tournament before retirement, and a host of stars have come out to watch her in action, with former US president Bill Clinton in the crowd for her first-round match.

Woods, actress Zendaya and film director Spike Lee were among those watching the Kontaveit match, and Williams suggested afterwards that she and 15-time major champion Woods had helped each other with their respective comebacks.

At this time last year, Williams was sidelined by a leg problem sustained at Wimbledon, while Woods was recovering from the serious leg injuries he suffered in a car crash.

"He's one of the reasons I'm here, one of the main reasons I'm still playing," Williams said. "We talked a lot. He was really trying to get me motivated.

"There's a few people, but we were like, 'Okay, we can do this together'.

"It was good, because I didn't know what I wanted to do. I was just lost, so many questions. When you can rely on someone like that, I mean, my goodness, he's Tiger Woods, it was really helpful to get clarity."

What Williams is wary of at this stage is raising her own expectations.

She was charmingly dismissive of an on-court question when asked if she was surprised by how well she was performing.

As far as Williams is concerned, she has proven countless times she is the greatest player, certainly of her own era, so even with limited preparation she backs herself.

But thinking too intently about winning majors may have been costly in recent years, with Williams having lost her last four grand slam finals to remain on 23 singles titles, one short of Margaret Court's all-time record.

"I cannot think that far," when asked about the prospect of winning the tournament. "I'm having fun and I'm enjoying it. Honestly, I've had so many tough matches the last I don't know how long that I just feel like just being prepared for everyone that I play is just going to be really, really difficult. Get through those moments."

In typical Williams fashion, she has danced around the subject of retirement since writing in Vogue in early August she would be "evolving away from tennis".

She spoke of wanting to "relish these next few weeks" in the magazine article, and so far at Flushing Meadows she is savouring every moment.

Serena and Venus were due to play doubles on Thursday, again on the Ashe Stadium court, with more fanfare expected.

"I think I've mostly been kind of blocking everything out, but then at the same time I've been embracing a little bit of it, because I also want to enjoy the moment," WIlliams said.

"I just feel like I have had a big red X on my back since I won the US Open in '99. It's been there my entire career, because I won my first grand slam early in my career.

"But here it's different. I feel like I've already won, figuratively, mentally. It's just pretty awesome the things that I've done."

Serena Williams' remarkable run in her final grand slam continued to gather pace on Thursday as she reached the US Open women's singles third round with a 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 triumph over Anett Kontaveit.

The record-breaking 23-time major winner may be set to step away from tennis following the conclusion of this year's event at Flushing Meadows, where she is also partnered with sister Venus in women's doubles.

But her latest victory arguably ranks as one of the most impressive she has racked up in recent years, with the record-extending stats underneath her win backing up her place in the sporting pantheon.

Williams has now won 367 matches in grand slam tournaments, comfortably extending her Open Era record for women's tennis and moving her within two of Roger Federer's outright record of 369.

In turning over Kontaveit, she also made it 10 victories against top-two seeded opponents in grand slam tournaments on the trot, last losing such a match at the 2007 US Open against Justine Henin.

In addition, it also brought up 100 US Open match victories when winning the opening set, with Williams having only tasted defeat on a further three occasions when striking first at this major.

Serena Williams says this is the most free she has felt on a tennis court in over 20 years after shocking world number two Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-2 to advance to the third round of the US Open.

Williams, 40, found another gear in the deciding set as she rode the wave of momentum that came from the raucous, sold-out Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd.

While Williams rose to the occasion, Kontaveit folded, posting three winners and 11 unforced errors in the third set, allowing the all-time great to secure the victory with a break-to-love.

On the court after the match – after a recorded video message from Oprah Winfrey also aired after Monday's win over Danka Kovinic – Williams said while everyone else may have been surprised by the result, she still has supreme confidence in her abilities.

"Well, I'm a pretty good player," she said playfully. "You know, this is what I do best. 

"I love a challenge. I love rising to the challenge. Yeah, I haven't played many matches, but I've been practicing really well. 

"In my last few matches, it just wasn't coming together. I'm like, this isn't me. The last couple matches here in New York, it's really come together."

Williams admitted that she thought to herself "this could be it" after dropping the second set, but highlighted the fact that this is the first time in over 20 years that she does not feel like she has a target on her back.

"Honestly, I'm just looking at [this run] as a bonus," she said. "I don't have anything to prove. I don't have anything to win. I have absolutely nothing to lose.

"Honestly, I never get to play like this since '98 really. Literally, I've had an 'X' on my back since '99. It's kind of fun.

"I really enjoy just coming out and enjoying it. It's been a long time since I've been able to do that."

Lastly, Williams talked about what it will be like to step back out onto the doubles court with sister Venus Williams on Friday night.

"I'm so excited for doubles," she said. "It's like, it's been so long. We got to play again, we got to bring the reunion back.

"I'm excited to play with Venus, get some more practice – because I could use the matches."

Serena Williams gave the celebrity-laden crowd in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night a taste of her very best, pulling through in the third set to defeat world number two Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (4-7) 2-6 6-2.

The two-hour-and-27-minute victory sees Williams, who has announced her intention to evolve out of playing tennis after the US Open, move into the third round where she will face Australian world number 46 Ajla Tomjlanovic.

The opening set had Williams' power serving game on full display, winning 89 per cent (24-of-27) of the points when she landed her first serve fair, while producing six break point opportunities in her return game while only facing three.

She could only convert one of those break point chances, going up 5-4 with a chance to serve out the set, before handing the break straight back, leading to a tiebreaker.

Of the 11 tiebreaker points, only one went against the serve, with Williams seizing her opportunity to secure the opening frame.

As Williams' serve fell off in the second set – only winning 50 per cent of her successful first serves – Kontaveit fought her way back into the game, producing a clean set as she hit 13 winners to only three unforced errors, wrapping up the frame in a snappy 36 minutes to take it to a decider.

After holding serve to open the set, Williams then took a 2-0 lead as she was able to convert her third break point chance of the marathon 13-point game. That was followed with a 12-point game where Kontaveit was able to break back, as the 40-year-old American was visibly slowing down the longer the match dragged on.

As Williams' energy reserves began to run low, she tried to compensate with as many one-shot rallies as possible, going for sink-or-swim drives down the line and across the court – resulting in some spectacular winners, but also an increase in unforced errors.

It turned out to be the right strategy as Kontaveit continued to have trouble with Williams' power, giving up the late break again to go down 3-1 before the living legend consolidated her advantage with a hold-to-love, sending the crowd wild as they could see the finish line.

With Tiger Woods in her players' box cheering her on, Williams secured a point from a 19-shot rally as the atmosphere hit fever pitch, and despite the effort required in that point, she was able to repel another break point opportunity to hold and go 5-2 up.

Ultimately, the cauldron inside the sold-out stadium proved too much for Kontaveit, who could not find winners down the stretch. She posted three winners and 11 unforced errors in the final set, including a double-fault in her final service game as she was broken-to-love to secure the stunning result.

Data Slam: Serena continues to win the big matches

Williams has now won her last 10 grand slam matches against opponents ranked in the top-two, with her last loss coming to Justine Henin 15 years ago at the 2007 US Open.

She has also only lost three of her previous 104 US open matches when she has won the first set, and is 42-0 in the opening two rounds at Flushing Meadows.


Williams – 38/39

Kontaveit – 30/27 


Williams – 11/6

Kontaveit – 5/5 


Williams – 5/12

Kontaveit – 5/11

The hype around Serena Williams' potential swansong tournament is "the biggest thing I've ever seen in women's tennis", says Torben Beltz, the coach of her next opponent Anett Kontaveit.

Williams has announced she is soon to retire, and the US Open is widely expected to be her final tournament.

The 23-time grand slam champion came through in straight sets in her first-round match against Danka Kovinic to set up a tough meeting with world number two Kontaveit on Wednesday.

Beltz wanted to watch Williams' opening match but could not do so after Arthur Ashe Stadium sold out, with reports of tickets on the secondary market on sale for around $1,000.

And Beltz says he has not seen anything like it, telling the New York Times: "I couldn't get a ticket. 

"This is the biggest thing I've ever seen in women's tennis. I think it's the greatest thing for the sport, and we all have to thank Serena for all she did. Especially right now with the end coming."

While Beltz's charge Kontaveit is favourite for the second-round match, the Estonian's coach knows it will be a tough match against the six-time US Open champion.

"I think her ball speed, serve and return is really up to her prime time," Beltz added.

"I saw her other matches, and it looks like she's improved over the last couple of weeks. She looks in better shape and looks good now.

"For Anett, I think the key is to just go out and try to play her best tennis but also enjoy the moment. It's going to be a big challenge, a great challenge, but I think she wants that challenge and wants to embrace it."

Venus Williams says she is "focused" on her US Open women's doubles pairing with sister Serena following her first round exit to Alison Van Uytvanck on Tuesday, adding that she couldn't turn down "the boss" one more time.

The seven-time grand slam singles champion saw her solo stint at Flushing Meadows come to an early end following a 6-1 7-6 (7-5) straight sets loss to the Belgian at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Following younger sister Serena's announcement earlier this year that she intended to step back from top-level tennis following the conclusion of the final tennis major of the year, many had wondered if Venus would follow suit.

But speaking after her defeat, Williams eschewed questions on her future, simply stating: "Right now, I'm just focused on the doubles."

The return of the Williams sister pairing – the only duo to have won the Career Golden Slam in women's doubles – has added a further degree of excitement to Serena's farewell tour.

When asked how their on-court reunion came about, Venus stated it was her sibling who got the ball rolling, adding: "It was Serena's idea.

"She's the boss, so I do whatever she tells me to do! I don't think we have played since 2016, but I might be getting that wrong. We have had some great wins. It would be nice to add some more."

Former world number one Williams made her 91st grand slam main draw singles appearance with her match against Van Uytvanck, a record for both the men's and women's game.

It is a testament to her longevity that 58 players in the main draw had not been born when she made her grand slam debut at the 1996 French Open – including this year's Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who also suffered a first round loss to the unseeded Clara Burel.

Serena Williams is "looking better every day" and only she could handle the US Open hoopla that surrounds her, according to world number one Iga Swiatek.

In a febrile atmosphere, Williams made a winning start to her final Flushing Meadows campaign on Monday night, getting the better of Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

A 6-3 6-3 first-round win over the world number 80 prompted Williams to break out in a jig of delight, and now world number two Anett Kontaveit awaits the great American in round two.

Williams will returns to Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday evening, when she is certain of another big reception and overwhelming support.

Kovinic's best winners barely received a smattering of applause, while her mistakes were often cheered by some in the crowd.

The crowd's partisanship could again come into play when 23-time grand slam singles champion Williams, who is planning on retiring after this tournament, tackles a tough task against Kontaveit.

Swiatek watched the opening games on Monday and remarked that she had "got tight just by watching", feeling all the strain Williams was under.

"So I realised that I need to stop," said a smiling Swiatek. "I can't imagine what she must feel, having this kind of atmosphere around her and just finishing.

"I know she's doing a tournament, but I feel like yesterday it was like people did so much work to show appreciation to what she's done. It's pretty amazing. I have never seen something like it.

"For sure it was like the most popular first round of a slam ever. I'm pretty happy that she can experience something like that. I also feel that not every player would handle that kind of fuss around your first match of the tournament.

"She's handling it pretty well, as usual. So that's just confirmation of how great she is."

Williams came onto the court in a glittery tennis dress and cape, along with jewel-encrusted tennis shoes, with Swiatek describing the outfit as "pretty cool".

With two grand slam titles to her name, the 21-year-old Swiatek is among the favourites to be champion in New York.

When she watched the fanfare and ceremony for Williams, along with the first couple of games, it brought it home to Swiatek just why many regard the 40-year-old as the GOAT – greatest of all time.

"It was kind of too much for me even watching that. I realise how she must feel, but she is kind of used to it more than us," Swiatek said.

"We never had such attention around us, because she's just a GOAT. She has it probably for most of her career, so I guess she's used to it. But for me, just watching that, I was pretty shocked."

Swiatek refused to predict how the Kontaveit match would go. The Estonian is ranked second largely because of her strong run of form at the back end of last season, with recent results not so impressive or consistent.

"I feel like against Serena – I have never experienced that, so I just assume – it's all about your mindset and mentality," said French Open champion Swiatek, who beat Italian Jasmine Paolini 6-3 6-0 on Tuesday.

"I know Anett can play great tennis. It's not a mistake that she's second in the world right now. But on the other hand, I feel like Serena is looking better and better every day."

Despite suggesting this year's US Open will be her final tournament before retirement, Serena Williams said "you never know" after her first round victory against Danka Kovinic.

The 23-time grand slam winner was made to work for the win, but strong support from the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium helped Williams over the line in a 6-3 6-3 success on Monday.

In a recent interview with Vogue Magazine, Williams indicated she was ready to move on to the next stage of her life, signalling an intent to bring her decorated career to an end after the event at Flushing Meadows.

Asked about her intentions during the post-match press conference, Williams said while smiling: "Yeah, I've been pretty vague about [retirement], right? I'm going to stay vague because you never know."

Williams credited the atmosphere, admitting it meant a lot to her to have such a strong following against her Montenegrin opponent.

"I think when I walked out, the reception was really overwhelming. It was loud and I could feel it in my chest. It was a really good feeling. It's a feeling I'll never forget, so... yeah, that meant a lot to me," she said.

"I was just thinking, like, 'Is this for real? Really?' At the same time, I'm also thinking 'I still have a match to play and I want to be able to play up to this reception almost.'

"It was so loud. I just was overwhelmed, in a good way. But at the same time it's like you have to be focused, you have to be laser-focused. That's what I needed to do and that's what I tried to do."

The 40-year-old plays number two seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round on Wednesday, and she did go on to seemingly confirm she intends to hang up her racquet once her tournament is over.

"The more tournaments I play, I feel like the more I can belong out there," she added. "That's a tough feeling to have, and to leave knowing the more you do it, the more you can shine.

"But it's time for me, you know, to evolve to the next thing. I think it's important because there's so many other things that I want to do."

Serena Williams joined elite company in the final tournament of her playing career becoming the fourth player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam match in her teens, 20s, 30s and 40s.

Williams joined 18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova, former world number four and three-time major semi-finalist Kimiko Date Krumm and six-time major winner and sister Venus Williams in achieving the feat.

The American's 6-3 6-3 win over Danka Kovinic in the US Open first round on Monday comes ahead of her 41st birthday next month, with Williams aged 40 years and 337 days.

The 40-year-old has been lauded for her decorated playing career, highlighted by 23 Grand Slam titles, but none of that is possible without endurability.

Williams's career spans 27 years, having turned professional in 1995 and having first played in a major in 1998 at the Australian Open. She played in that year's US Open too and has won every first-round match at Flushing Meadows in her career (21).

The ceremony and pomp after Monday's win was bigger than ever, with words from Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King along with an extended interview conducted by Gayle King with Williams, followed by a crowd display of signs reading "We love Serena".

It all offered a level of finality, despite Williams still being live in the tournament, albeit with a tougher test against second seed Anett Kontaveit to come on Wednesday.

Despite all that Williams, who has steered clear of the word retirement instead using "evolution", teased reporters when she replied to a question about the US Open definitively being her final tournament with a smile: "Yeah, I've been pretty vague about it, right? I'm going to stay vague because you never know."

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