Tennis legend Serena Williams is leaving her final mark. The 23-time Grand Slam champion announced recently that this year’s U.S. Open Tournament will be her last.
Last night, Williams beat the No. 2 ranked player in the Open, Estonian Anett Kontaveit, to advance to the third round.
Although the tennis icon will likely be retiring, her impact will last a lifetime. The Southeast Tennis and Learning Center in D.C., which named an arena after the Williams Sisters, was placed in Ward 8, a low-income community, The center provides children on the east side of the city access to learn tennis, an opportunity they would otherwise not have.
Director of TGA Premier Tennis of North D.C., Prang Pantusart, workers hard to make tennis accessible to all youth.
“We believe that sports changes lives,” Pantusart said. “We want [the youth] to use sports as a vehicle to help children reach their fullest potential, whether it is on the court and on the field or off the court and off the field.”
Rafael Nadal, the 22-time grand slam champion, also weighed in on Williams’ decision to retire during his press conference at the U.S. Open. He said that “from the tennis perspective it is a big loss that she is leaving.”
Similarly, rising African American tennis star Coco Gauff reflected on how Williams gave her confidence as she was getting started.
“Growing up I never thought that I was different because the number one player in the world was somebody who looked like me,” Gauff said.
However, before she lays down her racket, the queen of tennis graced the latest cover of Time Magazine, where she discussed her desire to walk away from the sport in order to give her undivided attention to motherhood.
“This whole journey is going to be emotional. I love what I do, it’s nothing about me not loving my job, I love my job,” Serena said in an interview with Today Exclusive. “I’ve been playing it my whole entire life, so it’s very emotional to evolve into something new.”
Many call her “the greatest athlete of all time.” Whether in person or on television, millions of fans from all around the world will be coming together to witness her final tournament. Her next match is tonight at 7 p.m. when she and her sister Venus play doubles against Czechs Linda Nosková and Lucie Hradecká in the tournament’s first round.