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In front of a sold out, boisterous Flushing Meadows crowd, Serena Williams extended her tennis farewell for at least one more match.

With celebrities everywhere, amongst the 24,000 fans inside Arthur Ashe, the 23-time Grand Slam champion gave tennis fans all around the world one last unforgettable Serena memory.

While the match itself wasn’t the highest of quality, the aftermath was a truly iconic sporting tribute.

Williams was initially able to negotiate her way past Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 on the back of some vintage serving, including nine aces.

Looking ahead to her second-round opponent – second seed Anett Kontaveit – and given Serena’s current level, it is safe to say that this will likely be her last ever singles victory.

And therefore, the scenes post-match were heart-warming and no doubt will continue to be shown for years to come in the tennis and broader sporting world.

If anyone hasn’t yet had the chance to enjoy Serena’s tribute inside Arthur Ashe, it is well worth your time – a truly spine-tingling homage to arguably the sport’s greatest ever champion.

Five-time US Open titlist and tennis icon Billie Jean King spoke on-court, thanking Serena for everything she has done inside and outside of tennis.

You are fearless, you hate to lose. It is great,” she said.

“You’ve touched our hearts and minds, to be our authentic self, to use our voices, to dream big.

“Thank you for your leadership and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, especially for women and women of colour.

“Most of all, thank you for sharing your journey with every single one of us.

“We love you; God bless you, and guess what, you’re just beginning.”

An emotional video tribute was then streamed inside Arthur Ashe, narrated by Oprah Winfrey.

“Thank you for making the bright lights brighter.

“Thank you for showing us how to be graceful, powerful, fearless.

“Thank you for turning centre court into centre stage; for bringing the house down.

“Thank you for showing us what it means to come back and for never ever backing down.

“Thank you for changing the face of the game; for inspiring the next generation.

“Thank you for thinking outside the lines and encouraging us to evolve.

“Thank you for showing us how to love the sport and for always loving us back.

“Just know whatever you do next, we’ll be watching.

“With love, all of us.”

Serena then took to the microphone - evidently astounded by the spirited crowd and touching tribute.

“First of all, thanks. I didn't expect any of this,” she said.

“The crowd was crazy. It really helped pull me through.”

Speaking in regard to her retirement call, Serena illustrated the difficulty in leaving the game she loves.

“It’s been such a hard decision, because when you’re passionate about something and you love something so much, it’s always hard to walk out.

“I think now’s the time. There are other chapters in life. It will be like Serena 2.0; I’ll still be around.”

However, Serena’s on-court career isn’t finished just yet.

She will take on Kontaveit on Wednesday night but will also play doubles with Venus later in the week – giving more fans the opportunity to watch a legend compete one final time.


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