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MARCA Tennis

Serena Williams leaves tennis as the greatest female player of all-time, capable of winning 73 titles and 23 majors, while also breaking social barriers and inspiring a new generation of stars.

After a spirited run in what was likely her final tennis match, Serena Williams couldn’t help but look back fondly at her career after falling 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-1 to Ajla Tomljanovic.

“Thank you daddy, I know you’re watching. Thanks mom,” Williams said before starting to cry during her post-match on-court interview. “Everyone that’s here, that’s been on my side, for so many years, decades…

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“These are happy tears, I guess. I don’t know. And I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, so thank you Venus. She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed … It’s been a fun ride. It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on.”

Given her career spanned four decades (she debuted in 1995, losing 6-1, 601 to Anne Miller at the US Open) and that she’s won the most Grand Slams in the Open Era (23), along with countless other accomplishtments, Serena has more than enough ammunition to be talked of as the greatest of all-time.

Serena Williams’ legacy

To say Serena has changed the world of tennis would be putting it mildly.

Serena, along with sister Venus, will be remembered for how they changed the sport, with players like Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka, Taylor Townsend and Frances Tiafoe crediting them for the interest and entrance into a sport that was largely white.

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Serena made her debut at the age of 14 in 1995, but it wasn’t until 1999 that she began to make her mark at the top. She did so with a bang, beating Martina Hingis in the US Open final to become the first black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958 to win a major.

By July 2002 she became the world’s No.1 player for the first time, a feat she would accomplish for the final time in May 2017. In 2002, she won at Roland Garros and Wimbledon for the first time.

She would win the Australian Open for the first time in 2003, with her powerful serve a big reason why. Reaching speeds of close to 200 km/h, there was no denying there had never been players with the intensity Serena and Venus showed when they burst onto the scene.

In the end, Serena ends her career with 73 titles and 23 Grand Slams compared to the 49 titles and seven majors for Venus.

This longevity and success has seen them come up against names like Hingis, Pierce, Capriati, Henin, Myskina, Sharapova, Kuznetsova, Clijsters, Mauresmo, Ivanovic, Kvitova, Stoour, Azarenka, Na Li, Bartoli, Kerber, Muguruza, Stephens, Ostapenko, Halep, Osaka, Barty and Swiatek.

While there was a clear distinction between the top 5 in women’s tennis in the early 90s, that can’t be said anymore. It’s become much more balanced, with the level of competition having been raised thanks to the example set by Serena Williams.

Serena’s retirement

Serena has been at the top of her game for 20 of her 27-year career. She’s suffered through injuries and illnesses, and even won the 2018 Australian Open while two months pregnant.

However, as with all greats, time has caught up with her. As a result, women’s tennis says goodbye to the last dominant force in the sport, with Iga Swiatek the only player showing signs of carrying that torch.

Perhaps a new force will emerge in the coming years, but either way, it will be difficult for any player to come close to the influence that Serena Williams had on the sport.

Source: MARCA (marca.com)

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