Tennis – Serena Williams loses third round at US Open, expected to retire Reuters

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© Reuters. Tennis – US Open – Flushing Meadows, New York, USA – Serena Williams of the United States loses to Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia in the third round on September 2, 2022 REUTERS/Mike Segar

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Steve Keating

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Serena Williams lost to Ajera Tomljanovic in the third round of the U.S. Open on Friday in what could be the last singles match of her illustrious career.

Losing is always hard for a competitive Williams, and no doubt the 7-5 6-7(4) 6-1 loss to the 46th-ranked Australian deeply stung her.

But there was no shame in losing to the brave Tomljanovic after a delightful third round, allowing the 23-time Grand Slam winner to walk out with his head held high.

Her three matches, highlighted by a second-round victory over world No. 2 Annette Kontaveit, were a gift to her fans, the ruthless unyielding attitude that made her tennis a Ruler for more than two decades, until the last point.

“It was a fun ride and the most amazing ride and trip I’ve ever had,” Williams told the cheering crowd, fighting back tears.

Ready for a fight, the 40-year-old came out to beat, forcing Tomljanovic to walk away.

The Australian needed six match points to complete the knockout round and end a gripping battle that lasted more than three hours.

Williams had hinted at her intention to retire last month, saying she was “moving away from tennis,” but never confirmed that the U.S. Open was her last tournament.

Given the chance to end speculation that the U.S. Open might not end, Williams only opened a crack.

When asked if she would ever want to return to tennis, she replied: “I don’t think so, but you never know. »

For fans, however, the message is clear that the U.S. Open will be where Williams pulls out.

The raucous New York crowd supported her from the start, fueled her six U.S. Open wins over the years, and they were in their corner again, but couldn’t get her to win. more importantly.

Tomljanovic, who has yet to win a WTA Tour title, appears to have had bad luck with Williams, who has won 73 career titles, but will not be intimidated.

Despite the heat, the game got off to a slow start and the players rested before settling down.

Williams looked to take control when she broke Tomljanovic for a 5-3 lead.

But with Williams leading 1-0 with two points, Tomljanovic digged in, stepped back and swept the pitch for four straight swept steals.

A defiant Williams, as she has done so many times, fought back with relentless style in the second quarter and raised her game as she beat the Australian twice on the way to 4-0.

Playing his fourth game in five nights, Williams suddenly looked breathless and Tomljanovic showed his steel to make it 5-5 as the game went into the tiebreaker.

Everyone inside Arthur Ashe, standing up now, knew Williams wasn’t going to go down without a fight, and the smoke in his reserves went 7-4 in the tiebreaker.

The crowd screamed again when Williams beat Tomljanovic at the start of the third quarter, but there was nothing left in the tank. The Australian put the former world number on the ropes to go 4-1 over the next four matches.

But Williams won’t let Tomljanovic win, she has to get it and needs six match points to get the job done.



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