SERENA Williams will take her final bow on tennis’ biggest stage at Flushing Meadows but the US Open is unlikely to provide a fairytale finish for one of sport’s most fascinating figures.
Tennis has been preparing for this moment for a while, watching as Ms. Williams transitioned from champion, to mother, wife, entrepreneur and finally tennis part-timer but in some ways her decision seemed to catch everyone off guard. Even Ms. Williams herself.
Williams signaled her intention to retire in a Vogue article in early August, saying she was “evolving away from tennis” but never confirming the US Open as her final event.
The tennis world, however, is preparing a massive retirement party at Flushing Meadows.
Certainly there could be no more fitting place to bring the curtain down on one of tennis’ great careers in a city that has been in her corner from the very beginning, fuelling runs to six US Open crowns.
It is the place where Williams won the first of 23 singles Grand Slam titles in 1999 and if Hollywood were writing the script, it would also be where she would win her last, an elusive 24th major that would pull her level with Margaret Court at the top of the all-time list.
But even the most hardcore Williams supporters will find it difficult to believe the 40-year-old can conjure up that kind of magic.
“Emotions can only carry you so far, I don’t see a Cinderella happy ending where she wins the tournament,” Martina Navratilova, winner of 18 Grand Slam singles titles and the world’s top ranked player for 332 weeks, told Reuters.
“The way she has looked, it doesn’t look like she is going to make a miraculous comeback and win the tournament.”
As farewell tours go Ms. Williams’ has been more melancholy than joyful.
World number one for 319 weeks, Ms. Williams will arrive at the US Open ranked below 600 and unseeded. — Reuters