Compton to Champion: Serena Williams Retires


Twirling, Serena Williams celebrates her first-round win against Danka Kovinić at the US Open. Williams made it to the third round of the final tournament of her career before losing to Ajla Tomljanović this past Friday night. (Twitter/mefeater)

Ava Satterfield, Print Editor-In-Chief

Twenty-seven years, 73 singles titles and 23 Grand Slams later, Serena Williams played her final tennis match last Friday night in New York during the third round of the US Open. Her legendary career ended at Arthur Ashe Stadium, the same court where she had won her first Grand Slam 23 years prior.  

Because she took a hiatus from tennis and lost in the first round at Wimbledon a few months ago, Williams was not expected to go far in the US Open. She beat these expectations, making it to the third round.  

Williams defeated Montenegrin tennis player Danka Kovinić in the first round 6-3, 6-3. In the second round, in a huge upset, Williams beat world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in three sets. This big win had fans hopeful for William’s success in the rest of the tournament, but Australian Ajla Tomljanović crushed these hopes. Tomljanović beat Williams 7-5, 6-7, 6-1 in the third round, pushing Williams into retirement.  

“It’s been the most incredible ride and journey I’ve ever been on, in my life,” Williams said after her loss. “And I’m just so grateful to every single person that’s ever said, ‘Go, Serena!’ in their life. I’m just so grateful, because you got me here.” 

Serena Williams also played doubles at the US Open with her older sister, Venus Williams, but the famous sister duo lost in the first round. After her last match, Serena Williams thanked Venus Williams for inspiring her to play tennis.  

“And I wouldn’t be Serena, if there wasn’t Venus,” Serena Williams said. “So, thank you, Venus! She’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed.” 

Record numbers of spectators came to the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to watch William’s final tournament. Arthur Ashe was full of celebrities: Tiger Woods, Anna Wintour, President Bill Clinton, Queen Latifah, Zendaya, Mike Tyson and more showed up to support Serena Williams.  

In a Vogue article published in early August, Williams announced her plan to retire after the US Open. She is a mother to five-year-old Olympia Ohanian, and she hopes to have another child.  

“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” Williams told Vogue. 

Serena William’s background is why many consider her the greatest athlete of all time. She grew up in Compton, California, and was coached by her father, Richard Williams. Despite learning tennis on public courts in a rough neighborhood, Williams turned professional at 14 years old, won her first Grand Slam at 17 years old, and became world No 1. at 20 years old. She was ranked world No. 1 for 186 consecutive weeks and a total of 319 weeks. Serena Williams has dominated women’s tennis for the past three decades, winning Grand Slams in her teens, 20s and 30s, and finally playing in her last Grand Slam at 40 years old.  

Her story has inspired many to follow their dreams, regardless of gender, race, age or background. She paved the way for female African American athletes, and her legacy will not only be celebrated for her tennis abilities but also for her determination despite odds against her.  

“I’d like to think that thanks to me, women athletes can be themselves,” Williams told Vogue. “They can play with aggression and pump their fists. They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick butt and be proud of it all.” 

Plant Sophomore and junior tennis player Valentino Laurato shared his opinion on Serena William’s retirement. 

“I feel that it was the right decision for her to retire at this point in her career,” Laurato said. “She has shown us the best of her tennis, and she doesn’t need to prove us anything more. She has shown me that you don’t need to be one of the top players to compete and win matches, and she showed that during the US Open this year.” 

Click the link below to watch her tribute: