© Reuters. Tennis – U.S. Open – Flushing Meadows, New York, United States – September 2, 2022 Serena Williams of the U.S. after shedding her third spherical match towards Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic REUTERS/Mike Segar
By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) -A defiant Serena Williams bid an emotional goodbye to the U.S. Open with a third-round loss to Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday, in what might have been the final singles match of her glittering profession.
Defeat has all the time been onerous to swallow for the fiercely aggressive Williams and little doubt the 7-5 6-7 (4) 6-1 loss to the forty sixth ranked Australian stung her to her core.
However after a joyous run into the third spherical there was no disgrace in a loss to the gritty Tomljanovic, permitting the 23-times Grand Slam winner to exit with dignity intact and head held excessive.
Her three matches, highlighted by a second-round win over world quantity two Anett Kontaveit, had been a present to her followers, the relentless by no means give up perspective that made her tennis’ dominant participant for over 20 years on show proper till the very closing level.
“It’s been a enjoyable journey and probably the most unbelievable journey and journey I’ve been on,” Williams, combating again tears, advised the cheering crowd.
All the time up for a struggle, the 40-year-old got here out swinging, forcing Tomljanovic to go the gap.
The Australian wanted six match factors to ship the knockout punch and produce an finish to an engrossing three-plus-hour slugfest.
Williams had signalled her intention to retire final month, saying she was “evolving away from tennis” however by no means confirming the U.S. Open as her closing occasion.
Given the chance to place hypothesis to relaxation that the U.S. Open is probably not the tip, Williams left the door open only a crack.
Requested whether or not she may be tempted to return to tennis, she responded: “I don’t assume so however you by no means know.”
For followers, nonetheless, the message was clear, the U.S. Open could be the place Williams would take her closing bow.
The raucous New York crowd that had backed her from the very starting and through the years, fuelling her runs to 6 U.S. Open titles, was in her nook as soon as once more however couldn’t raise her to at least one extra win.
Tomljanovic, who’s but to win a WTA Tour event, appeared to have had little probability towards Williams, winner of 73 profession titles, however wouldn’t be intimidated.
Regardless of an electrical environment the match obtained off to a sluggish begin with the gamers buying and selling breaks earlier than settling in.
Williams had seemed to grab management when she broke Tomljanovic to go forward 5-3 and serving for the set.
However with Williams two factors from a 1-0 lead Tomljanovic dug in, breaking again and sweeping 4 straight video games to steal the set, leaving the stadium shocked.
A defiant Williams, as she has accomplished so many occasions, lifted her recreation hitting again in ruthless model within the second and breaking the Australian twice on the way in which to 4-0.
Enjoying her fourth match in 5 nights, Williams instantly appeared to expire of gasoline and Tomljanovic, exhibiting some metal of her personal, pulled stage at 5-5 because the set moved to a tie-break.
Everybody inside Arthur Ashe, now on their ft, knew Williams was not going to exit and not using a struggle, and operating on fumes dug into her reserves to take the tie-break 7-4.
Williams had the group roaring once more when she broke Tomljanovic to begin the third however merely had nothing left within the tank. The Australian put the former-world quantity on the ropes, storming via the subsequent 4 video games for a 4-1 lead.
However Williams was not going at hand Tomljanovic the win, she must earn it, needing six match factors to get the job accomplished.