Did Serena Williams win at the US Open?

The GOAT received a standing ovation with thunderous applause from the crowd after the final movement.

NEW YORK — Leave it to Serena Williams not to want to go quiet, not want this match, this trip to the US Open, this transcendent career of hers to really, really end.

Aside from a change of heart, the closing minutes of her quarter-century of excellence on the tennis court, and an indomitable reluctance to be told what wasn’t possible, Williams sought to make one final classic comeback, earn one last vintage win, with Fans on their feet in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium, cellphone cameras at the ready.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion saved five match points to extend the more than three-hour procedure but couldn’t do more and was eliminated in the third round by Ajla Tomljanovic 7-5, 6-7 from the US Open ( 4), 6-1 on Friday night in what is likely to be her final competition.

“I’ve been downstairs before. … I’m not really giving up,” Williams said. “I’ve never given up in my career. I don’t give up in matches. I definitely didn’t give up tonight.”

Turning 41 this month, she recently told the world she’s ready to “evolve” away from her active days – expressing dislike for the word “retirement” – while purposely remaining vague on whether her gig will last Flushing Meadows would definitely represent their last hurrah, everyone assumed it would be.

“It was the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever had in my life,” Williams said, tears streaming down her cheeks moments after one final shot landed in the net. “I’m so grateful to every single person who’s ever said, ‘Go, Serena!’ in your life.”

When asked during a court interview if she might reconsider walking away, Williams replied, “I don’t think so, but you never know.”

A little later, at her post-match press conference, Williams joked on the same topic: “I’ve always loved Australia,” the country that will host the next Grand Slam tournament in January.

RELATED: Tennis icon Serena Williams writes essay announcing her retirement

With two singles victories this week, including over world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit, Williams took fans on an exciting retrospective on Wednesday at the hard-court tournament that has hosted half a dozen of their championships.

The first came in New York in 1999 when Williams was a teenager. Now she is married and a mother; Their daughter Olympia turned 5 on Thursday.

“Of course I’m still capable. … (But) I’m ready to be a mom, to explore a different version of Serena,” she said. “Technically, I’m super young in the world, so I want to have some life while I’m still walking.”

With 23,859 of her closest friends cheering loudly again on Friday, Williams faltered against Tomljanovic, a 29-year-old Australian who is ranked 46th.

Williams was giving away leads in every set, including the last in which she was 1-0 ahead before losing the last six games.

Tomljanovic is an unabashed fan of Williams, having grown up playing her on TV.

“I’m really sorry just because I love Serena as much as you do. And what she did for me, for tennis, is unbelievable,” said Tomljanovic, who has not passed the quarterfinals of any major. “It’s a surreal moment for me.”

Then Tomljanovic added with a laugh: “I just thought she was going to hit me. … She is Serena. That’s the way she is: she’s the greatest of all time. Period.”

This performance was not perfect.

At one point in the second set, William’s feet tangled and she fell onto the court, dropping her racquet. She finished with 51 unforced errors, 21 more than Tomljanovic.

Williams let a 5:3 lead fizzle out in the first set. She did something similar in the second, wasting edges from 4-0 and 5-2 and needed five set points to finally put that one in her pocket. From 4-all in the tiebreaker, meaning Williams was three points from loss, she batted a 117-mile ace, hit a forehand winner to cap a 20-shot exchange, then watched as Tomljanovic pressed for a forehand.

The momentum seemed to be on William’s side. But she failed to achieve the victory she had experienced so many times over the years.

“Oh my god, thank you so much. You guys were amazing today. I’ve tried,” Williams told the audience, hands on hips, before mentioning, among other things, her parents and older sister Venus, a seven-time Major champion who’s 42 years old.

“I wouldn’t be Serena if Venus didn’t exist. So thank you, Venus,” Williams said. “She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed.”

They lost together in the first round of doubles on Thursday night, incurring another sell-off. And on Friday, as with the younger Williams’ other games this week, there could be no doubt which player favored the paying crowd.

When Tomljanovic broke 6-5 on a four-game run to win the opening set, a person in their guest box rose to applaud – and he was pretty much alone.

Otherwise, people applauded when Tomljanovic made a double fault in what is widely seen as a faux pas for tennis audiences.

They raised their voices in the middle of long exchanges, which was also frowned upon.

They offered sympathetic tones of “Awwwwww” when Williams botched a shot and jumped out of their seats when she did something they thought extraordinary. A rather routine break from serve caused a standing ovation.

Tomljanovic draped a blue and white US Open towel over his head as he changed, perhaps to block out all the noise and distractions.

After Williams hit a sweeping backhand volley winner in the second set to take a 4-0 lead and her game improved with every moment, the reaction was deafening. Billie Jean King, a Hall of Famer with a total of 39 Grand Slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles, raised her phone to capture the scene.

“You’re everywhere!” shouted William’s husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, from a pitchside guest box that also housed power couple Ciara and Russell Wilson.

As Williams drove back-to-back forehand winners to a 5-2 lead in the second set, she screamed and leaned forward after each one.

She couldn’t keep that level.

Williams entered the night after winning 19 straight games in the third round of the US Open’s singles competition, including reaching at least the semifinals in her last 11 appearances in New York.

Talk about a moment that comes full circle: The only other third-round loss she’s ever had at Flushing Meadows (she’s 42-0 in first and second rounds) came in 1998, the year in which Williams made her tournament debut at the age of 16.

She would win her first major trophy 12 months later at the US Open. And now she said goodbye at the same stadium.

“It’s been a long time. I’ve played tennis my whole life,” Williams said Friday night after executing a final twirl-and-wave move usually reserved for wins. “It’s a little early, though I’m happy too because I think that’s what I wanted, what I want.”

https://www.king5.com/article/news/nation-world/serena-williams-loses-us-open/507-1bb7bfef-9453-411b-8132-e0d4811cb39c Did Serena Williams win at the US Open?

Emma Bowman

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