Ajla Tomljanovic had the honor of getting a piece of history as the last player to contest a singles match against 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, beating the tennis queen 7-5 6-7(4) 6-1 in the third round of the US Open.
All eyes were on Williams this fortnight in New York, as the American had announced, although a bit ambiguously, that this US Open would be her last tennis tournament. As the Grand Slam set an all-time single-day attendance record on Friday with 72,039 fans coming to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Williams waved goodbye to tennis, but only after saving five match points in what turned out to be her final game in Arthur Ashe Stadium.
In the on-court interview, when asked whether she would reconsider her decision to retire after her excellent showing in New York, Williams replied:
I’m literally playing my way into this and getting better. I should have started sooner this year. I don’t think so, but you never know.
In the post-match press conference, Williams acknowledged that she was still capable of top-level tennis and her performance in New York would have been much better had she played more tournaments in previous months. However, she’s ready to “explore a different version of Serena” and focus on being a mom. The 40-year-old Williams made a funny statement:
Technically in the world I am still super young, so I want to get a little bit of a life while I’m
The world No.46 Tomljanovic managed to block out the noise and handle the pressure of having all eyes on her match against the six-time US Open champion. The Australian produced a phenomenal performance in a high-quality contest that lasted three hours and five minutes. Previously, Williams’ only third-round defeat at Flushing Meadows came against Irina Spirlea on debut in 1998.