Serena Williams, of the United States, acknowledges the crowd after losing to Ajla Tomljanovic, of Austrailia, during the third round of the U.S. Open tennis championships, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

US Open: Serena Williams beaten by Ajla Tomljanovic after an epic in three sets in New York

Serena Williams saw her US Open dreams shattered in the third round against Ajla Tomljanovic in what should be her last competitive tennis match.

Williams’ performances against Danka Kovinic and Anett Kontaveit had given hope to the tens of thousands who flocked to Flushing Meadows hoping his swan song might have a fairy tale ending.

But, despite a memorable second-set fightback in a raucous atmosphere, there will be no record 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Brave Tomljanovic needed six match points to deliver the knockout blow and end a gripping slugfest lasting over three hours, winning 7-5 6-7 (7-4) 6-1.

Tomljanovic vs Williams: Match Stats

Tomljanovic Match statistics williams
3 ace 11
9 Double faults seven
63% 1st serve winning percentage 64%
40% 2nd serve winning percentage 36%
8/13 Break points earned 5/13
32 Total Winners 49
30 Direct errors 51
123 Total points earned 115

The 40-year-old, who played her first professional tennis match in 1995, walked calmly towards the net before waving to all sides of Arthur Ashe Stadium as ‘Simply The Best’ played over the loudspeakers.

Addressing the crowd through tears, Williams said: “Thank you so much, you guys were amazing. I tried. Thanks dad, I know you’re watching. Thanks mom.

“I just thank everyone who’s here, who’s been by my side for so many years, literally decades, but it all started with my parents and they deserve it all, so I’m really grateful to them. And I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, then thank you Venus. It’s been a fun ride.”

When asked if there might be another chapter, Williams added, “I don’t think so, but you never know.”

Serena Williams: career statistics

Singles Titles 73
Duplicate titles 23
Grand Slam singles titles 23
Doubles Grand Slam titles 14
Mixed Doubles Grand Slam Titles 2
Olympic Games 4 gold medals
World number 1 319 weeks
Match wins 858

Williams, who entered again after a montage hailing her greatness, got off to a nervous start and immediately dropped serve, but quickly rallied, broke Tomljanovic again and began to gain the upper hand.

Williams’ movement was crisp and her groundstrokes powerful, and Arthur Ashe was ready to celebrate another set in the bag when she again broke serve to lead 5-3.

But Williams, who has played very little tennis in the past 18 months, tightened up at the wrong time, struggled to find her serve and Tomljanovic won the set with four games in a row.

The 29-year-old was looking to reach the fourth round in New York for the first time, but is no stranger to the second week of slams after making back-to-back Wimbledon quarter-finals.

This occasion, of course, was something completely new and it felt the full force of Williams’ frustration at letting the first set slip away.

With her serve now engaged, the 40-year-old took a 4-0 lead. Tomljanovic came back with two games in a row, and the Aussie pushed for another break, but Williams dug deep and roared long and hard when she held on.

But again she struggled to cross the line, failing to convert four set points in a long eighth game and then giving up her serve as Tomljanovic equalized at 5-5.

At 4-4 in the tie-break, Williams was three points from the end, but she took a deep breath, served an ace and forced a decider.

The cheering crowd was on their feet and Williams started the third set in perfect fashion by breaking Tomljanovic’s serve again.

It takes a lot of work to get here. It is clear that I am still capable of it. It takes a lot more than that. I’m ready to be a mom, to explore another version of Serena.

Serena Williams

But, as the match neared the three hour mark, the physical exertion Williams had been putting in began to take its toll and she had little left to give.

At 5-1, Williams received a preemptive standing ovation. She hung on grimly, saving five vintage-style match points, but with the sixth it was all over.

Tomljanovic, who will next play Liudmila Samsonova, called the moment “surreal”.

She said: “I’m so sorry just because I love Serena as much as you guys do. What she has done for the sport of tennis is amazing. I never thought I would have the chance to play in his last game. when I was a kid, I watched all those finals.”

What would it take for you to come back?

Serena Williams of the United States waves to fans after losing to Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia in the third round of the US Open tennis championships Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, in New York.  (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Williams teased that she ‘always loved Australia’ during her press conference

Speaking at her press conference, Williams was asked if there was any chance she could continue playing. She replied: “I don’t know. I don’t think about that. I’ve always loved Australia, though.

“I’ve come a long way since last year at Wimbledon. I don’t know if it was my last moment or not. To make it a different moment, I think, is much better.

“It takes a lot of work to get here. Clearly I can still do it. It takes a lot more than that. I’m ready to be a mom, to explore a different version of Serena.

“Technically in the world, I’m still super young, so I want to have some life while I’m still walking.”

Will you be involved in the game in any capacity?

“For me, tennis has been such an important part of my life, I can’t imagine not being involved in tennis. I don’t know what that involvement is yet,” Williams said. “But I feel like it’s provided so many opportunities for me. Because of that, it’s provided other people with so many amazing opportunities.

“I think it means so much to me in my life, and I’ve had so many amazing times, that I don’t see a future without it. What’s my involvement? I have no idea. I think I will be involved in some way or form.”

What is one thing you would like us to remember?

“There are so many things to remember. Like the fight. I’m such a fighter,” the 40-year-old said.

“I feel like I really brought something and I brought something to tennis. The different looks, the punches, the intensity just crazy. I think passion is obviously a really good word.

“I just keep going through the ups and downs. I could go on and on. But honestly, I’m so grateful to have had this moment and to be Serena.”

Coco crushes Keys to reach the last 16

Coco Gauff reacts after winning a women's singles match at the 2022 US Open on Friday September 2, 2022 in Flushing, NY.  (Garrett Ellwood/USTA via AP)
Coco Gauff dominated fellow American Madison Keys to reach the fourth round of the US Open for the first time

Coco Gauff proved too strong for former runner-up Madison Keys in their All-American duel, earning a 6-2 6-3 victory in just over an hour.

Gauff, 18, who was once again called upon to warm up the pitch at Arthur Ashe Stadium for Serena Williams ahead of her compatriot’s highly anticipated night game, has now made week two of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

The French Open runner-up, who improved to 11-3 at majors this year, said she was honored to open for Williams at Flushing Meadows for the third time and would be at again glued to the game of his idol.

“It was amazing. I didn’t miss it,” Gauff said.

“Even the day I watched it on TV I had to order room service. I know she’s on my side of the draw and I don’t know when I might face her but it’s is the goal.”

Gauff will be the favorite when they face China Zhang Shuai on Sunday.

Tunisian fifth seed Ons Jabeur survived a thrilling duel against home prospect Shelby Rogers 4-6 6-4 6-3.

“Crazy match,” Jabeur said. “Even 5-1, 40-love, she doesn’t make it easy for me. I’m very happy that I kept fighting and went all the way.”

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US Open: Serena Williams beaten by Ajla Tomljanovic after an epic in three sets in New York

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