Global tennis icon Serena Williams announced her retirement from the sport via a Vogue article published on Tuesday, August 9. Just a day later, she bid the city of Toronto a tearful goodbye after being defeated by Belinda Bencic of Switzerland at the Canadian Open. It was Williams’ first match since the news of her “evolving away” from tennis.
She received a standing ovation when she stepped onto the Center Court at Sobeys Stadium. Bencic, a 2020 Olympic gold medal winner, dominated Williams in straight sets with scores of 6-2 and 6-4. It was Williams’ last visit to the Canadian Open as a competitor, and she wiped away tears after the match.
Serena Williams has previously won the event three times. Following her defeat, she and her daughter were gifted Toronto Raptors and Maple Leaves jerseys. When honored with a lavish bouquet of flowers, Williams’ emotions were on full display.
Stating she was “terrible at goodbyes,” the icon simply told the attendees, “Goodbye, Toronto.” The crowd responded with another standing ovation and a thunderous round of applause.
At her post-game interview, Williams commented it had been an “interesting 24 hours” after announcing her retirement. She added that she wished she had played a more decisive game but complemented Bencic on how well she had performed on the court.
In the Vogue article, Williams, now 40, stated she was “evolving away” from tennis to move closer to other important aspects of her life. Specifically, she mentioned her family and wanting to grow it. She also commented that she did not want to choose between her family and her career and would not be faced with such decisions if she were a man. The sentiment resonates with countless women who have faced similar circumstances.
Serena Williams will compete in the US Open one last time. The event will take place in New York City from late August through September. Six of her 23 Grand Slam titles have taken place at the iconic tournament, and Williams is ready to add a 24th with her final appearance.