Playing in the US Open right here in Flushing at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Serena Williams showcased greatness one last time. All-in-all, Williams rocked some sparkly black Nike sneakers that had a gold ‘SW’ on them, rang the bell at the Stock Exchange, won against two rivals, all before crying and saying goodbye! She wasn’t ultimately victorious but she wasn’t defeated.
This scene was all due to the fact that Vogue magazine put out an issue in which Serena said that she was “evolving away from tennis” to spend time with her family and expand her empire. She wrote, “I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me.” As soon as this was said, there were stories going around that reported on her career and her birthright. These stories made it seem like she was gone — she wasn’t around anymore. However, New York arranged for an accurate send-off: the US Open. It wasn’t just a tennis match, but a huge ceremony in a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium with celebrities and a maximum audience, with videos that brought tears around the nation.
However, something remarkable happened, she won and returned to play another night, and another night… and another night. Before the match, Serena rang the first bell at the New York Stock exchange along with her business partner Alison Rapaport Stillman, serving for Serena Ventures, a venture capital enterprise fixated on small businesses. This being only one of Williams’ off-the-court ventures.. She also has a clothing company S by Serena, and a children’s book “The Adventures of Qai Qai.”
Going back to her first match, the last Monday night in August, it was possibly the final singles match for Serena. It was becoming nightfall, and there was the awaiting air of a prize battle amongst a record breaking US Open gathering of 29,402. There were celebrities all over the place from different backgrounds: boxer Mike Tyson, actor Hugh Jackman, actress Queen Latifah, former President Bill Clinton, director Spike Lee, TV host Andy Cohen, actress Anne Hathaway and many more. She also, of course, had her five year old daughter Olympia in the crowd.
Arthur Ashe Stadium was the location of Serena’s first US Open victory in 1999, when she was 17. Now, 23 years later, Serena played 27 year old Danka Kovinić from Montenegro, besting her 6-3. She would then go on to beat the second ranked Anett Kontaveit before ultimately falling to Ajla Tomljanović in the third round. While this won’t matter for Williams’ trophy case, as she has won six US Open singles crowns and 23 Grand Slam singles titles, she will be deeply missed.
Elinor Samimi, a sophomore who is an Accounting major said that she wished that Serena could have won and she is going to miss watching her play. She thinks that Serena is really talented and could have played longer but she understands why she is taking that step back and she is proud that she is focusing more time on her family and helping young organizations grow and flourish.
Holden Velasco, a junior with a Media Studies major and the Sports Editor at the Knight News stated, “Serena William was more than just a tennis player. It goes without saying Williams was a generational talent in the sport, but what she did transcended the sport. I automatically thought of Muhammad Ali and Jackie Robinson. She’s a hero to a generation of underrepresented groups in the sports world, and she should be applauded for her activism. Sure, tennis will be different without her, but I don’t expect her to stop using her platform for good anytime soon. That’s the true purpose of the athlete; excellence on the field of play and benevolence off of it. Having her finish her career right here in Flushing is an honor that the neighborhood should hold tightly.”
Serena Williams can hang her shoes up proudly knowing the positive impact she made both in the sport of tennis, and in the hearts of countless around the world.