Serena Williams pauses for a fleeting moment and puts her hand on her heart as she walks out of Rod Laver Stadium. I wave to the fans – for a little longer than what usually happens after a loss. It seemed like the last farewell on this hot summer Thursday night in Melbourne. When, after agonizing 3: 6, 4: 6 against Japanese Naomi Osaka in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, she broke off her press conference in tears and left the room with an answer, the tennis world began to puzzle even more.
Will it end up with that long-awaited 24th Grand Slam title? Has the ever-setting record for Australian Margaret Court, controversial over anti-gay and lesbian statements, been forever rejected for possibly the best player in tennis history? Will Serena Williams, who turns 40 on September 26, be back in Australia? Are you still going to the top in Paris, Wimbledon or New York?
Williams responded with a smile when asked if she’d called her fans Dawn Under. After a five-day shutdown, spectators were finally allowed back to the facility in Melbourne Park – and witnessed the tumultuous scene as Williams left the stadium. “I don’t know. If I say goodbye, I will not tell anyone. So…” Williams later told the few reporters on the site.
“I love you. I love you”
This was followed by the eighth question. Whether she could explain her many small mistakes, especially given how well she has played in the tournament so far. Whether it was simply a bad day (which is nicely paraphrased in English as “Was it one of those bad days in the office?”). “I don’t know,” said Williams, swallowing up. “That’s it,” she said, started crying, got up and left the interview room crying.
Williams last won the Grand Slam in 2017 at the Australian Open. She was already pregnant at the time. Their daughter was born that year, but Williams is back into tennis and almost to his old strength. But almost. And the unwavering dominance went to first place long ago. After the birth of her daughter, she reached the Grand Slam Final four times and lost the Grand Slam final four times: 2018 in Wimbledon against Angelique Kerber and at the US Open against Osaka, in 2019 at Wimbledon against Simona Halep (which is now evident. Lost in Melbourne in Quarter-finals) and at the US Open against Bianca Andreescu.
And of course time is running out in search of a Grand Slam record. Williams opened the game against Osaka, leading 2-0 after a few minutes, but then, the 2019 Melbourne winner and the 2018 and 2020 US Open champion put off her tension in the short term and left Williams in a state of “weakness”. On the field, Eurosport expert Barbara Retner also appropriately analyzed. The 23-year-old Japanese used the first match ball after just 75 minutes. Instead of Williams, she will now face Jennifer Brady from the United States in the final on Saturday, who defeated Czech Karolina Moshova in three sets: 6: 4, 3: 6, 6: 4.
Williams found no way to beat Osaka that day. Unlike the scandalous New York final in 2018, everything has remained calm this time. At the time, the final ended in scandal when Williams called the referee a “thief” and later accused him of sexism. After banned signals from their coach Patrick Muratoglu, a smashed bat and a harsh criticism of the referee, Williams was warned three times and ultimately punished with a 3: 5 opponent in the second set. Osaka won 6: 2, 6: 4 and thus won her first Grand Slam title.
This time Williams congratulated her online super-adversary with a hug – and later wrote a few lines on social networks to “Melbourne and Australian Fans”. I felt honored to be able to play in front of the fans, I thanked her for the support and wished she could “give you a better performance today”. She concluded her emotional contribution with the words: “I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.”
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