- Estelle Monti
Rumors Stir After Serena Williams Loses at the Australian Open
On Wednesday, February 17th, American tennis player Serena Williams stepped onto the court for her semi-final match, but it might have been her last. As Williams departed from the heartbreaking loss, she gave the crowd a somber wave, which led fans and reporters alike to suspect that she might be retiring. In the press conference after the match, a reporter asked if the wave symbolized her farewell. She responded, “If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone” but left the conference shortly after in tears. The uncharacteristic emotions from a mature and seasoned tennis player led many to believe that this would be Serena’s last match.
Williams fell to Naomi Osaka of Japan after losing in two straight sets in the semi-final of the Australian Open. Despite the pandemic, the International Tennis Federation was still able to hold the Australian Open.
Williams was formerly ranked number one in the world as of 2015 and is now ranked at number seven. She has also won 23 grand slam titles. In 2017, Williams gave birth to her daughter Olympia, and fans were shocked to see her return. Fans were even more impressed that, at age 39, Williams was still able to advance to the semi-final and was only two matches away from her 24th grand slam title. If Williams had won the 2021 Australian Open, she would have tied with Margaret Court, the most decorated female tennis player, for the record of most women singles titles.
The age of 39 may not seem very old, but it can be in the professional sports world, especially when the professional tennis circuit is becoming younger and more competitive. Many new young faces, including her opponent Osaka, are starting to take over the tennis world. Since 2018, 8 out of the 13 Grand Slam titles have been won by different women. Only Osaka and Simona Halep have won more than one in the past three years. New York Times writer Kurt Streeter even said that Osaka is a “carbon copy” of Williams because she plays with the “same power, same moxie.”
People magazine writer Conchita Margaret Widjojo published an exclusive interview with Serena’s coach, Patrick Mouratoglou. He disclosed that he does not think she will retire. He said, "I don't think she planned [retirement] for this certain moment. She's dedicated all her life to tennis since she was a kid, so the day she will retire, she will feel like she's giving an end to 40 years of a life.”
Fans have mostly concluded that Williams will wait to see how the rest of the 2021 season will play out. Nevertheless, many fans will view her retirement as a sad day in tennis history as they see her as a role model for black and female athletes in all sports, even for those athletes who have now become her opponents.