The tennis icon, who lost in her 40th Grand Slam semifinal, got emotional and ended her press conference after facing questions about her future

By Georgia Slater
February 18, 2021 10:55 AM
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Serena Williams is feeling grateful for her fans as her run at the 2021 Australian Open has come to an end.

On Wednesday, Williams lost in straight sets to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open women's singles semifinals at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. After taking the opening set 6-3, Osaka achieved her twentieth consecutive win when she beat Williams 6-3, 6-4. 

After the match, which was Williams' 40th Grand Slam semifinal, the athlete, 39, thanked her fans for their unwavering support in a candid Instagram post.

"Melbourne and my Australian fans- Today was not an ideal outcome or performance but it happens... I am so honored to be able to play in front of you all," the tennis icon began.

"Your support -your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today," she continued. "I am forever in debt and grateful to each and every single one of you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you."

Williams got emotional about her defeat during a post-match press conference.

One reporter asked the athlete if she simply had a "bad day at the office."

"I don't know," Williams replied, beginning to get choked up.

"I'm done," she said through tears before walking out of the interview.

In the press conference, the tennis star was also asked to share the meaning behind her exit from the court with her hand over her heart.

"People wondered if you were almost saying farewell," a reporter noted.

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"If I ever say farewell, I wouldn't tell anyone," Williams said with a laugh.

Ahead of Wednesday's match, Williams called Osaka, 23, an "incredible opponent" during a press conference for the open. She also praised the young athlete as a "very strong player."

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka
| Credit: Jason Heidrich/Icon Sportswire via Getty; Cameron Spencer/Getty

"I feel like she does everything well, she has a good serve, she has a great return, she's strong on both sides," Williams said.

Osaka and Williams have played each other several times before in tournaments. Osaka won over Williams in the first round of the 2018 Miami Open, and then beat the mom of one in the women's singles final of the 2018 U.S. Open. But Williams struck back when she beat Osaka at the 2019 Rogers Cup.

Osaka's big win over Williams at the 2018 U.S. Open is memorable to many but the match was also marred by a verbal altercation between Williams and chair umpire Carlos Ramos. Williams was given three separate on-court violations and later suggested that the umpire's actions were motivated by sexism.