Serena Williams said she wanted to be remembered as a fighter and was proud of the impact she had on tennis as she most likely dropped the curtain on her historic career at the US Open on Friday.
A defiant Serena bid an emotional goodbye to Flushing Meadows with a third-round loss to Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday.
Defeat has always been hard to swallow for the fiercely competitive Williams and no doubt the 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 loss to the 46th-ranked Australian stung her to her core.
Her three matches at this year’s US Open, highlighted by a second-round win over world number two Anett Kontaveit, were a gift to her fans, the relentless never surrender attitude that made her tennis’s dominant player for more than two decades on display right until the very final point.
“Clearly I’m still capable,” Williams told reporters after her loss. “But it takes a lot more than that. I’m ready to be a mom, explore a different version of Serena. Technically in the world, I’m still super young, so I want to have a little bit of a life while I’m still walking. I have such a bright future ahead of me.
“The fight, I’m such a fighter,” she said when asked how she wanted to be remembered following her third-round loss.
“I feel like I really brought something to tennis, a different look, the fist pumps, the just crazy intensity. Passion is a really good word.”
On the court, she thanked her family, friends and fans for an “incredible journey”.
“Honestly I am so grateful that I had this moment and that I’m Serena.”
The 23-time Grand Slam champion singled out the 2015 French Open, where she battled through serious flu symptoms to complete her second “Serena Slam” – four consecutive Grand Slam titles – as a career highlight.