A League of Her Own


Serena Williams says goodbye after a legendary career. (Courtesy of Twitter)

Witnessing greatness is not something that should be taken for granted, and this past week at the U.S. Open was a firm reminder of just that. On Friday night, Serena Williams’ illustrious tennis career came to an end in a thrilling three-set loss to Ajla Tomljanović in the third round of the U.S. Open. 

Earlier in August, Williams announced that the U.S. Open would be the last tennis tournament of her career. Immediately after, ticket prices soared as people across the globe desperately tried to secure a seat to witness her last hurrah. A woman born and raised in Compton, Calif., would take center court on Asche one last time with absolutely nothing left to prove. Nevertheless, many doubted her ability to make it past the first round considering her poor play of late, as well as her rather limited mobility in comparison to her younger competitors. Despite these potential shortcomings, it is never a good idea to bet against greatness, and Williams proved just that. The 23-time Grand Slam champion gave tennis fans a reason to believe that number 24 was in the works. A dominant straight-set victory on Monday followed by an impressive victory in round two over Anett Kontaveit, the second-ranked female player in the world, had New York City and the tennis world buzzing. That was until the 29-year-old Australian took the court on Friday night. 

Ajla Tomljanović proved that she could handle the spotlight, as well as the jeers towards her and cheers for Williams. Tomljanović attacked Williams’ weaknesses and wore her out as the match progressed. Her impressive performance should not be completely overshadowed by the end of Williams’ career. On Friday night, one career ended while another may have just begun. 

Williams’ play this past week was nothing short of remarkable. Her serve was electric as she hit triple digits time and time again. Her mobility was good enough, and she made up for it with explosive ground strokes that completely dismantled her opponents. While Friday night marked the end of her days on the tennis court for now, she did not completely rule out a potential return to the game when asked about her future following the loss. Whether or not Williams ever plays again is beside the point, as her legacy will continue till the end of time. 

For the past 27 years,  Williams has spoiled us with her dominant play and exceptional sportsmanship. Though, it is worth noting what she has done off the court as well, because that is why her legacy will continue to live on. Both Williams and her sister, Venus, have opened doors for greater diversity in sports. The Williams sisters have contributed a great deal of time and effort towards the creation of a tennis center in Washington D.C. Additionally, Serena Williams has inspired others by sharing the struggles she experienced during childbirth. By doing so, Williams has raised awareness for the struggles women face around the globe. Serena Williams is a class act; through her leadership, respect and accountability, she has embodied what every athlete and person should aspire to be. Serena Williams has not only transformed the game of tennis, but also our culture and community. From all of us, thank you, Serena.