A tennis icon has hit her last ball. After 27 years as a professional player, Serena Williams retired from her sport at the US Open. A career so rich that our tennis player Dirk Gerlo had to think carefully about his five key moments.
1. Serena Williams-Kim Clijsters 2003 Australian Open
One of ten duels between Kim Clijsters and Serena Williams (it would eventually be an 8-2 for Williams).
It was a sweltering Thursday afternoon in Melbourne. Williams was the absolute number 1 in the world ranking after she won three Grand Slams in a row in 2002.
But that Thursday she seemed to be on her way to the exit in her semi-final against Clijsters, which would not mean a final against her sister Venus. Venus had just knocked out Justine Henin.
Clijsters won set 1, Williams set 2. Clijsters was unleashed in set 3. She ran out to 5-1, at 5-2 she had two match points, which she did not use. At 5-4 she was allowed to serve for a place in the final.
Williams didn’t fail, Clijsters did. Comment from Williams after the game: “I never think I’m going to lose even though I’m 6-0 5-0 0-40 down. I always stay positive. It was a great fight. Kim played great, but I kept fighting. I’ve always been a “fighter.”
2. Serena Williams-Maria Sharapova London 2012 Olympics
Serena Williams had already won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008 with her sister in doubles, but a gold medal in singles was still missing.
She got a “golden” chance at the All England Tennis Clubwhere she had won her fifth of seven Wimbledon titles a month before the Games.
The final against Maria Sharapova promised to be tough. Sharapova had eliminated Sabine Lisicki and Kim Clijsters on her Olympic road.
Still. On center court, the Russian was simply blown away. It took 45 minutes before she could win a first and only game with a 6-0 and 3-0 deficit.
The predator in Serena Williams was once again unstoppable. “I was so focused. This was my best shot at Olympic gold. I’m good on grass, this is Wimbledon. “Just do it,” that’s what I thought.”
With her win in London, Serena Williams became after Steffi Graf the second player to realize the Golden Slamso those are the titles at the four Grand Slams and Olympic gold.
3. Serena Williams-Naomi Osaka US Open 2018
One of the most loaded finals ever at the US Open.
At the age of 37, Serena Williams took on youngster Naomi Osaka. After Williams lost the first set, she was first warned in set two for coaching by her then coach Patrick Moratoglou.
A little later, after she lost her serve, she received a second warning with a point deducted after she broke her racket.
A raging Williams verbally attacked umpire Carlos Ramos. That even cost her a game. Williams said at the press conference afterwards that she was not an impostor, that she did not let herself be coached and that there were always problems with chair umpire Carlos Ramos.
No apologies were made, not even to winner Naomi Osaka, who did not know what happened to her and who accepted the ceremony with resignation.
1. Serena Williams-Kim Clijsters Indian Wells 2001
Not the most legendary duel between Serena Williams and Kim Clijsters, but a match in a special context.
In the semifinals, Serena should have played against her sister Venus. Venus gave up four minutes before the game due to an injury, tendonitis in the knee. That reason was seen by many as a refusal by the Williams to play against each other.
A day later, father Richard, sister Venus in the stands and Serena on the track were booed before, during and after the final. After her win, Serena Williams said she had been racially assaulted, verbally abused by an older, white group of onlookers.
Serena and Venus Williams refused to participate in the tournament in the California desert for 14 years.
5. Serena Williams-Venus Williams 2017 Australian Open Final
The Williams sisters played against each other 31 times. Serena won 19 times.
The Australian Open final in 2017 was the last major final between Venus and Serena.
A final between Venus and Serena was always a complicated affair, in Melbourne they both went all out. Here you saw that both Venus and Serena wanted the title.
The match confirmed the hegemony of Serena, who is now eight weeks pregnant, who surpassed Steffi Graf in the all-time list of grand slam winners with her victory.
Serena Williams came in at 23, the future smiled at her. Numbers 24, 25 would follow. Not so.