Serena Williams: The end of an era

Nate Henneke, Staff Writer

I was not around for the start, but I was there for the end. To watch someone as dominant and skillful as Serena Williams retire evokes a bittersweet feeling because it serves as a reminder that everyone grows old eventually, while also allowing new faces to have their time in the spotlight. The story of Serena Williams is one of triumph and talent, and her legacy will forever be remembered.

Going into the 2022 U.S. Open, everyone already knew this would be Williams’ last professional tournament, and at 40 years of age, the odds of her winning were very slim. But after her triumphant victory over Anett Kontaveit in the second round, fans of Williams started to gain hope. Sadly, her final conquest was put to an end in the third round, losing in three sets to Ajla Tomljanović. Despite the short run Williams had in her final grand slam, she still broke a record. Her final match was the most watched tennis match in ESPN history, the previous record was broken 2012 during Roger Federer’s finals match at Wimbledon. 

To go over every amazing thing Williams has done both on and off the court would be a long and arduous effort. Instead there are a few moments in her career that stand out: like in 1999 when Williams won her first grand slam at the age of 17, or when she had a child in 2017 and fought through complications due to childbirth to make a strong return the very next year. But the most impressive feat of her career is the absolute dominance that she had on women’s tennis for over three years, maintaining the No. 1 rank in the world for 186 consecutive weeks. This level of domination over a sport is a rare and spectacular sight, and for that Serena Williams will forever be remembered. 

The landscape of tennis has been changing very quickly — both men’s and women’s tennis are presently going through a transition — due in part to the greats like Nadal, Federer and Williams all aging out of their prime. While it is sad to see these wonderful athletes lose their ability to play at the highest level, it is important to remember the impact they had on this sport is unquantifiable, and we will forever  see their impact in the matches of young talents.