Serena Williams played her final professional match on Friday night

Serena Williams’ fans weren’t all that worried about her third round against Ajla Tomljanovic, the 29-year-old Croatian-Australian. While Ajla is a good player and she’s been doing well in the Slams in recent years, Serena’s fans felt like “well, Serena can handle her.” People were already talking about how far Serena could go in the US Open, her final tournament. People were like: maybe the semifinals, maybe even the final! Nope. Ajla Tomljanovic defeated Serena in an over-three-hour battle on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night. Ajla did it by not missing, not choking, putting the ball back every time. It was rough. Serena kept fighting until the very end though, saving five match points in the last minutes of her professional career. The only silver lining is that Chris Evert wasn’t in the commentary box to spread her racist microagressions all over Serena’s last match.

The US Open had already organized the big retirement ceremony for Serena for her first match, so the only thing left on Friday was Serena’s last speech on court. She was already in tears during the match, then she made everyone else cry with her emotional final speech, especially when she said “I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus, she’s the only reason why Serena Williams existed.”

In the 24 hours after Serena’s final professional match, the tributes and love poured in from sponsors, tournaments, world leaders and Serena’s friends and players on the tour. There were so many, so I’m just highlighting the most notable, including Roberta Vinci’s tribute (Vinci beat Serena at the USO in 2015, when Serena was going for the calendar Slam). I loved the fact that President Biden tweeted about it!

Thank you for dreaming, daring, and proving that anything is possible.

— President Biden (@POTUS) September 3, 2022

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) September 3, 2022

— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) September 3, 2022

Thank you @serenawilliams – for everything you did for our sport. Tennis sure won’t be the same without you ❤️ #legend #ThankYouSerena

— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) September 3, 2022

— Simona Halep (@Simona_Halep) September 3, 2022

— Roberta Vinci (@roberta_vinci) September 3, 2022

— Bill Gates (@BillGates) September 3, 2022

— Viola Davis (@violadavis) September 3, 2022

How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time.

I'm proud of you, my friend—and I can't wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents.

— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) September 3, 2022

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.

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