'Striking' detail comes to light in wake of Serena Williams retirement

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Serena Williams grins after a point at the Toronto Open.
Serena Williams has never faced more than half of the current WTA top 10 in singles, with some in the next generation to be unaware of the 40-year-old's powerful game. (Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Observant tennis fans have picked up on a telling detail about Serena Williams' retirement from tennis and her legacy.

The 40-year-old announced this week that she would be retiring after this year's US Open, declaring she was ready to 'evolve away from tennis' after reaching the second round of the Toronto Open.

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Williams will have one final opportunity to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam victories at Flushing Meadows later this year, with her last grand slam victory coming at the Australian Open in 2017.

Having absolutely dominated women's tennis since her breakthrough grand slam victory in 1999, many of the current top players on tour were just children when Williams announced herself on the world stage.

That breakthrough at the 1999 US Open was the first of six wins at her home grand slam, to go with seven in Australia and Wimbledon, and three at the French Open.

Injuries have disrupted her staying power on court in recent years however, and in her absence a new generation of women's stars has emerged.

Incredibly, nine players in the WTA top 20 have never faced Williams in a singles match - including world No.1 Iga Swiatek.

Neither have the World No.2 and No.3, Annett Kontaveit and Paula Badosa, nor has No.5 Ons Jabeur, who Williams teamed up with in doubles prior to her highly anticipated return to Wimbledon.

The trio of young rising stars in Emma Raducanu, Coco Gauff and Leylah Fernandez are also among the list of players never to have faced Williams in singles, as well as the likes of Veronika Kudermetova and Barbora Krejčíková.

Only a handful of top players have faced Williams more than once, with World No.8 Garbiñe Muguruza boasting a 3-3 record against thge American legend.

Her six games against Williams are more than the rest of the WTA top 10 combined, a detail high-profile tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg labelled 'striking'.

Williams played on Monday only her second singles match since she returned to action at Wimbledon in June after a year-long absence from competition, beating Spain's Nuria Parrizas Diaz to reach the second round of the Toronto Open.

Serena Williams announces tennis retirement ahead of 2022 US Open

Williams won her last grand slam in 2017 and has been chasing an elusive 24th crown that will draw her level with Margaret Court who holds the record for the most majors.

She came tantalisingly close to achieving that feat, featuring in four major finals since giving birth to daughter Olympia in 2017.

Coming off the court in Toronto, Williams admitted she could see the light at the end of the tunnel for her tennis career.

"I have never liked the word retirement," Williams wrote in a Vogue article on Tuesday.

"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 was quick to point out her status as the most successful player in the Open era, noting that all of Court's title wins game before the Open era began in 1968.

Serena Williams is pictured readying her serve at the Toronto Open.
Serena Williams admitted she would have liked to win a record 24th grand slam to seize the record from Margaret Court. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)

"There are people who say I'm not the GOAT (greatest of all time) because I didn't pass Court's record, which she achieved before the 'Open era' that began in 1968," former world number one Williams said.

"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."

Williams later said in an Instagram post that it was time to move in a "different direction."

"That time is always hard when you love something so much," she added. "My goodness do I enjoy tennis.

"But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I'm gonna relish these next few weeks."

Williams also owns 14 women's grand slam doubles titles with older sister Venus and has won four Olympic gold medals: singles (2012), doubles (2000, 2008, 2012).

With AAP

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