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Serena bows out on her own terms

Updated: Oct 3, 2022

The 142nd edition of the US Open gets underway on Monday and as the younger generation continues to infiltrate the tennis landscape, one of the sport's ultimate stalwarts will be hanging up her racket in the next fortnight.

Serena Williams will go down as one of, if not the greatest female tennis player of all-time. The imminent US Open will see the 40-year-old bring down the curtain on an illustrious career in which she has dominated the women's game and re-written the history books.

Since making her Grand Slam debut at the 1998 Australian Open, aged just 17 years & 116 days, Serena has appeared at a total 80 major tournaments – second only to her older sister Venus who has played in a whopping 90 Slam events (the most by any competitor, male or female).

The Williams sisters have met 16 times at major tournaments and a total 31 times on the WTA Tour. On nine occasions did Serena and Venus contest a Grand Slam final, including at five consecutive majors between 2002-03. Serena won seven of those finals, while Venus got the better of her younger sister just twice.

Serena with her most recent Grand Slam trophy at the 2017 Australian Open. (Photo by Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Serena is currently ranked 605th by the Women's Tennis Association, but that doesn't mean she will go down without a fight as she prepares to call time on a most splendid two-and-a-half decades on the world tour. Ahead of her 41st birthday in September, Serena has confirmed that the forthcoming US Open is likely to be her last on-court venture in professional tennis.

In a column for Vogue magazine earlier this month, Serena wrote: “I have never liked the word retirement … I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me … I want to grow [my] family.

“My whole life, up to now, has been tennis … If I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.”

Serena did not feature in last year's US Open, but she did progress to the semifinals (or beyond) in each of her last 11 times playing at the major in New York City. She has reached the Championship match 10 times at Flushing Meadows – the joint-most in history – winning six of those.

In addition to six Grand Slam titles in her home country, Serena is also a seven-time winner at the Australian Open, a seven-time Wimbledon champion, and she has conquered Roland Garros three times. Williams boasts a 69.69 per cent win rate with 23 victories in 33 major finals (singles).

Serena has recorded the most Slam titles in the Open Era (since 1968) and sits one shy of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slams. In total, Williams has won 39 major trophies including 16 in doubles tournaments.

To date, Serena has won 365 of her 420 matches at Grand Slam events (a win rate of 86.9 per cent) and at the US Open alone, she has taken 106 victories from 120 matches played – the most by any female player in history. In total she has won 73 singles titles in her career and also finished runner-up 25 times, of which 10 were at Grand Slams.

Serena possesses countless records and milestones, including the longest span between the first and last title win at all four majors. There were 15 years between her maiden and most recent US Open championships (1999-2014), 14 years from her first Australian Open crown in 2003 to her last in 2017, 14 years separating her earliest and latest Wimbledon successes (2002-2016), and 13 years between winning the French Open in 2002 and again in 2015. In total, 18 years passed between her first Slam triumph and her most recent.

Serena with her first French Open title in 2002. (Photo by Andre Durand/AFP/Getty Images)

Her maiden Slam win at the 1999 US Open came two weeks shy of her 18th birthday. At the age of 21 Serena held all four Grand Slam titles after winning the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in 2002 and the Australian Open the following year. Serena repeated this feat in 2015 after winning the first three majors that year as well as the US Open from the previous year.

Serena won an impressive 10 Grand Slam titles after turning 30, and no other female in history has won more than three major singles titles in their 30s. Moreover, she is the oldest woman to win a Grand Slam, at the age of 35 years & 124 days, and the oldest woman to reach a Grand Slam final (37 years & 346 days).

Serena with her first and last Wimbledon crowns, 14 years apart. (Photos by Getty Images)

Williams has spent 319 weeks atop the WTA rankings, the third-most in history, and she is the oldest player to be ranked no.1 by the WTA, aged 35 years & 224 days.

Serena has amassed more than $94 million USD in prize money throughout her career, on top of millions more in endorsements from sponsors including Nike, Wilson, Pepsi, Beats by Dre, and Aston Martin.

Closing this most decorative chapter at her home major seems fitting, and whatever is next in store for the phenomenal Serena Williams she will always be regarded as an all-time great in the tennis and wider sporting communities.

Serena opens her 2022 US Open campaign versus unseeded Danka Kovinić in the first round, and should she progress Williams could come up against no.2 seed Anett Kontaveit in the second round.

Serena poses with her first major trophy at the 1999 US Open. (Photo by Mark Sandten/Bongarts/Getty Images)

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