The tennis world has praised Belinda Bencic for her beautiful act towards Serena Williams after defeating the 23-time grand slam champion at the Canadian Open.
Bencic's groundstrokes proved too much for Williams as she defeated the 40-year-old 6-2, 6-4 only a day after the tennis icon announced she would retire from the game following the US Open.
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The crowd roared for every Williams point, knowing it could be the last time the champion graced the court in Montreal.
Bencic embraced Williams at the net and offered some kind words, before conducting her on-court interview as the winner.
However, in a classy move, Bencic thanked the crowd before calling up Williams.
"I mean, tonight was really special. Also for me it was quite overwhelming," Bencic said of the occasion.
"I never imagined being able to play Serena so many times. It is always an honour. That is why I think tonight is about her."
Bencic then gestured towards Williams to take the spotlight and left the interview.
— FanDuel Canada (@FanDuelCanada) August 11, 2022
Williams was taken aback by the gesture and thanked Bencic as she took to the microphone in front of an adoring crowd.
"Thanks Belinda for those nice words," Williams said.
Fans were quick to praise the 'classy' moment from Bencic.
Very classy from Bencic. Said it was Serena's night and walked away. Absolutely love that from Bencic. Knows it wasn't her moment.
— Tennis Updates (@TennisUpdates22) August 11, 2022
Belinda Bencic is such a good sport. After her two-set win, she says “tonight is all about Serena” and leaves the court to the Queen. #NBO22
— Çetin Cem Yılmaz (@cetincem) August 11, 2022
I thought Bencic was adequately respectful. It is the Serena show win or lose.
— Karen Kennedy ☮️ (@KareNadalmama) August 11, 2022
Bencic wins 6-2, 6-4, decisively in control against Serena pretty much the whole way.
But this first taste of Serena’s farewell tour was pretty sweet. Will only keep getting bigger as the time ticks down toward New York.
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) August 11, 2022
A nice moment at the net between Serena Williams and Belinda Bencic in Toronto after the legend played her final 🇨🇦 match.
The @NBOtoronto crowd gave her a great sendoff and tourney director Karl Hale ensured some nice gifts and flowers were on hand as well to mark the occasion. pic.twitter.com/9Sj3JOIPxK
— Mike McIntyre (@McIntyreTennis) August 11, 2022
Serena Williams becomes emotional after defeat
Williams admitted it was an emotional day and thanked the crowd for all their support over the years.
"It was a lot of emotion because obviously I love playing here," she said in an on-court interview.
"I wish I could have played better today but Belinda played so well.
“It's been a pretty interesting 24 hours. I'm terrible at goodbyes, but goodbye, Toronto!”
Williams was gifted some flowers as members of the crowd yelled: 'We love you Serena'.
The 23-time grand slam champion became emotional as she teared up walking off court.
She will now turn her attention to the Cincinnati Masters next week before her farewell at the US Open.
Williams' farewell tour started after her announcement on Tuesday that she would retire from tennis after the US Open.
"I have never liked the word retirement," she wrote in an article for Vogue magazine.
"Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.
"A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family."
Williams has been chasing the all-time grand slam record of 24 since winning her last major title in 2017.
However, Williams admitted she was content with her decision to retire.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I'm really not thinking about her. If I'm in a Slam final, then yes, I'm thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn't help," she said.
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