Emma Raducanu, Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu touched upon the news of Serena Williams announcing her imminent retirement in their respective post-match press conferences at the National Bank Open on Tuesday.
In a heartfelt letter for Vogue magazine on Tuesday, the 23-time Major champion outlined her retirement plans, taking the tennis world by surprise. Williams is on course to take part in this year's US Open, after which she will most likely call it a day.
Leylah Fernandez, who partnered with sister Bianca Fernandez in the women’s doubles, beat Kirsten Flipkens and Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4, 6-1 in their Round of 32 fixture. Speaking after the match, older sister Leylah spoke highly about Serena Williams and her contribution to the sport.
“It's very sad news. She's an icon, she's a legend. The sport needs her. She's done incredible things for not only tennis but also for women. She gave us a path to follow,” she said.
“And then afterwards I know that she's making a decision for herself and we just got to trust that she's going to do the right things. I'm sure that hopefully maybe she can come back to the sport and hopefully help us help the younger generations. I'm sure she's just going to be a great, great role model, even away from tennis,” she added.
Emma Raducanu, who went down 7-6(0), 6-2, to Camila Giorgi in the Round of 64, also echoed those sentiments.
“It's incredible her career. She has achieved so much. And to see her around in this U.S. swing is really inspiring. Like she keeps playing because she obviously loves the game. And I think that longevity of a career is something that a lot of the players and me especially we aspire to achieve as well,” Raducanu said.
“I think that she definitely changed the game. There's not really been someone who has dominated like her in the women's game. So I think she did change the game a lot in that respect,” she added.
Bianca Andreescu is one of the very few players who have never lost to Serena Williams on the tour. The pair faced each other twice, with the first meeting coming at the Canadian Open in 2019 where the American was forced to retire midway through the first set. The second, and final, meeting came in the final of the 2019 US Open, which Andreescu won 6-3, 7-5 to clinch her maiden Grand Slam title.
Speaking about Williams after her straight-sets defeat of Daria Kasatkina, Andreescu said that she was honored to have gotten an opportunity to play against her.
“I feel honored to have gotten that opportunity to play her and even connect with her in some way,” she said, adding, “I was absolutely shocked. Because I just woke up and I get that and I'm like, What?”
“You know that at one point she's going to retire. But when she actually is going to announce it, it's just shocking. Because you think these kind of players will play forever. I mean I think she's 40 now?” she stated.
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Like Raducanu and Fernandez, Andreescu credited Williams for her contributions to the sport.
“But she's done so much for the sport, for women's tennis. I think right now she said she's focusing on a new chapter in her life. So I'm happy for her,” Andreescu said.
Serena Williams eyes US Open title before calling time on her career
In her article for Vogue, Serena Williams revealed that she began playing tennis with the goal of winning her home Slam in New York.
“I started playing tennis with the goal of winning the U.S. Open. I didn’t think past that. And then I just kept winning,” she wrote.
The 40-year-old has been eyeing her 24th Grand Slam title since 2017, reaching four Major finals but winning none. While she would love to win the elusive 24th title at Flushing Meadows, she stated that she would not lose sleep if she could not.
“The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams. I had my chances after coming back from giving birth. I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression,” Serena Williams said.
“But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually it’s extraordinary. But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter,” she added.
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