U.S. Open: Serena loses to Tomljanovic at US Open in what could be last match

NEW YORK — Serena Williams lost what was expected to be the final match of her transcendent tennis career on Friday night, beating Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round at the US Open 7-5 6-7 (4) 6-1 in front of an electric crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium .

Unwilling to go quietly, Williams saved five match points to extend the more than three-hour proceedings while some spectators watched with camera phones at the ready. No one – except Tomljanovic, of course – wanted this to end.

It happened on Tomljanovic’s sixth chance when Williams got a shot.

Turning 41 this month, Williams recently told the world she’s ready to “evolve” away from her active days — she expressed dislike for the word “retirement” — though she’s purposely remained vague on whether that appearance at Flushing Meadows is definitely their final tournament, everyone assumes.

It was treated that way on Friday night, and Williams cried in court immediately afterwards. When asked if she might reconsider, she replied, “I don’t think so, but you never know.”

If this was indeed the final hurray, she was taking her fans on an exhilarating throwback ride at the hard-court tournament that has hosted half a dozen of her 23 Grand Slam championships. The first came in New York in 1999 when Williams was just 17 years old.

But she failed 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.

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 couldn’t pull off the kind of comeback she’s had 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 her parents, husband, and older sister Venus, a seven-time main master.

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

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

https://6abc.com/serena-williams-us-open-last-match-tennis/12189841/ U.S. Open: Serena loses to Tomljanovic at US Open in what could be last match

Alley Einstein

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