The most prominent women’s tennis player of the Open Era bid farewell to the sport on an emotional Friday night at the US Open.Serena Williams in three gripping sets in Arthur Ashe Stadium. Williams’ memorable run at the 2022 US Open, likely her last, comes to an end in the third round.Ajla Tomljanovic defeats Serena Williams in three sets,7-5 ,6-7.6-1.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2022
Twenty-three-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams not only has the respect and admiration of tennis fans around the world, but also her fellow players competing at the year’s final Grand Slam in New York. At the 2022 US Open, stars of both the ATP and WTA Tours shared their thoughts on the tennis great, who announced her plans to “evolve away” from the sport following the event.
What a week. What an evening.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2022
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2022
Iga Swiatek: For sure, she’s the great example. Especially, also, with how she copes with having business and playing at the same time, or being a mother and playing at the same time. It’s just amazing. I think it’s great that we have somebody like that in our sport who cleared the path and showed us that you can do anything. The sky’s the limit.
Serena put up numbers we may never see again. pic.twitter.com/OYPGaQZcAq
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 3, 2022
Rafael Nadal: I spoke plenty of times about Serena, how important she was—or she is—for our sport. I think she, as an athlete, has been not just a tennis player, but she has been one of the most important athletes in the history of the sport. So from the tennis perspective, it’s a big loss that she is leaving. But on the other hand, she deserves all the things that she achieved because she worked enough to make that happen for such a long time, with a lot of determination, dedication, discipline. If not, all of this is impossible. So now is the moment that she deserves to choose whatever she wants to do. Yeah, I just believe and hope that if she is able to stay around the sport in some way, it’s going to be great for our sport because I always believe that the sports are bigger when the legends of our sport are around the sport, no? And she’s a legend. In some way, I hope she will continue being involved in the world of tennis.
Elena Rybakina: I was actually lucky to play her at the French Open. It was an amazing experience for me. If we talk about Serena, of course, she’s legend and someone who brought a lot to our sport.
Leylah Fernandez: She’s an icon. She’s a legend. Those are the first few words that come to mind when I think about her. She has done so much for the sport, not only for tennis players, but for women, in general. She’s fought for us. She’s done incredible things. It’s a little sad to see her leave the sport. But she set out a good path for all of the WTA players—even the ATP players—to reach their own goals, voice their thoughts, keep fighting for what they believe in. I think it’s a great way to leave the sport.
Stefanos Tsitsipas: Serena has had a domino effect with her career, with her community—not her community, but other communities around the world. She has been very inspiring, including to myself. What she has been able to do on the tennis court and outside the tennis court has brought the game of tennis so high and has made it so important as a sport. So I give a lot of credit to her because she deserves a lot of credit for what she has done in this sport. She’s a phenomenon.
Emma Raducanu: Serena has achieved so much in the game. To be playing for this long, I think it’s really inspiring. It just shows her drive. It’s quite incredible how dominating she’s been for the majority of her career.
Leylah Fernandez: I think she has inspired everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are, you know who Serena is. You know the great things that she’s done. For me, she showed me how to be strong, how to be independent, how to fight for what you believe in, fight for your dreams. Seeing that she’s been doing that since the very beginning of her career, and even now she’s still doing it, it’s so inspiring. It motivates me more to do that. Hopefully I can achieve a quarter of her career. She’s a legend. She’s an icon. I’m just sad that she has to leave the sport.
Coco Gauff: I think, really, just the way she was able to [transcend] in a sport that’s predominantly white. Before Serena came along, there was not really an icon of the sport that looked like me. So growing up, I never thought that I was different because the No. 1 player in the world was somebody who looked like me. I think that’s the biggest thing that I can take from what I’ve learned from Serena. Then, also, on a more personal level, I got to have a couple conversations with her later on in life. I think it’s just the way that she handles herself. She never puts herself down. I love that she always elevates herself. Sometimes being a woman, a Black woman in the world, you kind of settle for less. I feel like Serena taught me that, from watching her, she never settled for less.
Daniil Medvedev: She’s the strong woman in the world in tennis right now. That’s cool. Twenty years later, I’m here, and have already managed to have some success in my career, and Serena is still playing, playing her last US Open. It’s just legendary. Every time I saw her in person, she just has this legendary energy around her. Everybody is a fan of hers. She, for sure, has and will have an amazing legacy in tennis. I’m sure in 100 years, we’re still going to talk about Serena Williams.
Naomi Osaka: I think that her legacy is really wide, to the point where you can’t even describe it in words. Like, she changed the sport so much. She’s introduced people that have never heard of tennis to the sport. I think I’m a product of what she’s done. I wouldn’t be here without Serena, Venus, her whole family. I’m very thankful to her. I honestly think that she’s the biggest force in the sport. That’s not intentionally trying to, like, make Federer or Nadal smaller. I just think she’s the biggest thing that will ever be in the sport. It’s just really an honor just to watch her play.
Andy Murray: What she’s done, her achievements in the sport, are obviously incredible. She will go down as one of the best tennis players to have ever played, if not “the” best on the women’s side. You know, I think, also, what she and Venus have done, when you combine the two, is even more remarkable, really, and probably unlikely we will see something like that again from two sisters. I think it’s really cool that they are playing doubles together. I think that will be really nice. But, yeah, she’s obviously had a massive impact on the sport. You just need to hear some of the interviews that a lot of the players have done about her to realize that.
Coco Gauff: I think it’s hard to dominate for generations. She showed that, and that’s why, for me, she’s always going to be considered the G.O.A.T. She didn’t dominate for one generation. She didn’t dominate for two generations. She dominated for three-plus generations. I don’t think anybody else did that. That’s why it’s sad to see her leave, but also at the same time, she’s going to do completely a bunch of amazing things off the court. She’s in the fashion world. I saw her model, walk the runway of a show. We’re going to see a lot of Serena later on.
Alex de Minaur: Well, just growing up, I mean, it just felt like when I was four, five, six, basically all my childhood, that it was just the same Grand Slam winner every Slam. That was Serena. It’s amazing, her story—how she’s become what she’s become, the success she’s had throughout all the different stages in her life. I think that’s probably the most impressive part. When she was young, just bursting out on tour, even in the later stages of her career, she still had that fighting, winning mentality. She has been a pretty amazing competitor for the sport.
Madison Keys: I mean, she’s Serena. She’s always the talk of the tournament.
Danka Kovinic: Yeah, of course. I mean, it’s maybe one opportunity in a lifetime to play against Serena, especially in a night-session match on Arthur Ashe. It was definitely an experience that I only could think of and dream of maybe in my entire career. I’m very pleased that I got the opportunity to play against her. I had a great time out there. I really enjoyed it, every second of the match.
Naomi Osaka: There’s definitely been a lot of barriers that I’m sure she had to fight to break down. We can now easily go through that because of her.
Frances Tiafoe: I played Hopman Cup with her. Spent that time with her. I mean, then after that [I saw] just how genuine she is, giving me two cents all the time, and how normal she is at the same time. Hanging out with her all week, doing dinners with her, stuff like that, seeing her crack jokes, being so normal. Seeing someone who is a Mount Rushmore person like her, seeing the normality in her was crazy. How she treats everybody with such respect, everything like that. [She’s] just a true leader. Being able to share the court with her, being able to practice with her in the off-season. She’s like, ‘Aren’t you coming over to the house?’ We have lunch. She’s really taken me in. She just wants to see me do well. It’s sad to see her go. I love how she’s saying she’s evolving and not retiring.
Iga Swiatek: For sure, it was like the most popular first round of a Slam ever. Yeah, it’s just amazing. It shows how much she has changed our sport and how much she has done. I’m pretty happy that she can experience something like that. I also feel that not every player would handle that kind of fuss around your first match of the tournament. She’s handling it pretty well, as usual. So that’s just confirmation of how great she is. And the outfit is also pretty cool. She’s just a G.O.A.T.
Venus Williams: She’s doing it the way she wants to. That’s what matters most is to do things on her own terms. Obviously, my hope is that there is more ahead for her at this tournament.
Belinda Bencic: I’m very proud to say that I managed to beat her. But still, I mean, I think now that it’s kind of ending, I feel like more and more I realize, like, how big this moment is and how much she’s done, how big she is. Sometimes you’re in the moment. Oh, yeah, there is Serena Williams. But on the other side, you’re like, OK, well, there is Serena Williams. It’s crazy.
Danielle Collins: I’ve idolized Serena and Venus my whole life; they’ve been people I’ve really looked up to. This is such a big moment in our tennis history. I love how our sport celebrates our champions of the game.
Anett Kontaveit: I’ve grown up watching her win so many Grand Slams. Yeah, I mean, I always remember seeing how fiercely she competed for every point. Yeah, of course, I was growing up watching her play. I mean, she was dominating women’s tennis for so long.
Ajla Tomljanovic: I’ve been a Serena fan since I was a kid. I think she’s changed the sport of tennis, but also what she’s done worldwide for women in sports is incredible. She’s paved the way for so many, inspired me to go for my dreams. Even her longevity. I’m kind of in the part of my career now where they call you on the older side. She’s made that kind of nonexistent. ‘Old’ is not even a word in her vocabulary. Very grateful to her for that. I don’t think there’s anyone like her, obviously. I always get happy when she says hi to me.
Jessica Pegula: We’re like, ‘Oh, wow, she came to play this week.’ She’s here to play. You can tell she’s been working really hard the last couple weeks, and I think it’s a different Serena—same Serena, but at the same time, more vintage Serena. I think we are just kind of, I don’t know, like, that’s what we do. We go back, we turn it on because we want to watch her play. I think that’s just kind of the impression, I guess, she leaves on everyone in the locker room. We are all tuning in to see how she’s doing. I think that speaks a lot, I guess.
Victoria Azarenka: I believe that she’s such a big magnitude of tennis, and so much force, that there is no doubt that people are going to be supporting her in New York. But being it’s Serena’s last tournament, like, nobody wants to kind of miss those matches. It’s pretty special. I’m sure it’s not an easy place to be across the net. But also special. I will say it’s special.
Carlos Alcaraz: Serena inspires me a lot. [Her] last match yesterday was amazing, and, of course, during her career she inspired me, and a lot of players.
Garbine Muguruza: Yeah, I have seen both matches. You know, I’m zero surprised. I think she’s playing like Serena plays: Strong and solid, just her game. She’s putting it together at the right moment. I think we all see that this is a last push because she’s giving it all.
Ons Jabeur: Everybody knows Serena [in Tunisia]. They actually know the Williams sisters as “Les Soeurs Williams.” They are very impressed by how powerful she is and how amazing she is. I got to watch Serena a lot growing up and liked seeing her, how she was really consistent in a lot of things and breaking records everywhere. Her and Venus, to be honest with you. It’s unbelievable what they did for this sport. You know, it’s just always amazing to see them in the hallways and in the locker rooms. I was lucky enough to play doubles with her, and this I’m going to cherish for my whole life. It’s like winning a Grand Slam for me, you know?