On Sept. 2, Serena Williams played her last match in the U.S. Open in Flushing, New York. After a three-hour-long match, she was eliminated by Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round at Arthur Ashe Stadium. At the end of the match, Williams expressed gratitude for the accomplishments she has made so far to various news networks.
Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan, in 1981. In 1996, she debuted at her first tennis tournament at just 14 years old. She claimed her first singles title in 1999 at the U.S. Open, and she eventually ended up winning 23 Grand Slam singles titles and 14 Grand Slam doubles titles. She was also able to compete in the Olympics and win four gold medals. In her entire career, she earned $94.5 million in prize money.
“It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on in my life,” Williams said to an on-court reporter. “I’m just so grateful because you got me here.”
Williams' retirement was initially announced in Vogue on Aug. 9. After 27 years of playing professional tennis, she expressed interest in pursuing other ventures. Williams expressed conflicted feelings when it came to walking away, saying she doesn’t like to use the word “retirement” and calling it “the hardest thing that [she] could ever imagine.”
News of Williams’ retirement inspired many other celebrities to examine her impact on tennis and this new era of sport.
"Congratulations, Serena, for your heart, skill, intelligence, dedication, and grace,” Barack Obama, the former president of the U.S., said on Twitter. “Few athletes have inspired more people both in and beyond their sport!"
“You're a GOAT,” LeBron James, an All-Star NBA player, said on Twitter. “What you've done for the sport of tennis, what you've done for women and what you've done for the category of sport, period, is unprecedented.”
"I think I'm a product of what she's done,” four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka said on Twitter. “I wouldn't be here without Serena, Venus, and her whole family.”
[Related: Black Voices: Naomi Osaka is the highest-paid female athlete, a rising star on and off the court]
IU students also responded to the retirement announcement.
“She’s done so much,” IU sophomore Mackenzie Lee said. “She’s a very accomplished athlete, so why not quit while you’re ahead?”
IU sophomore Tyler Niedermeyer, said it was cool to watch her play and she was the greatest to ever do it.
“That’s pretty weird because she’s like the face of tennis, for me anyways,” IU junior Corbin Hughes said. “She’s like one of the only tennis players I know.”
Upon retirement, Williams is still one win short of taking Margaret Court’s record of having the most Grand Slams title wins — 24 to be exact. However, Williams has expressed contentment in her own accomplishments and looks back on her matches fondly.
“I feel like I’ve already won, figuratively, mentally,” Williams said to the New York Times.