An emotional Serena Williams says ‘I’m done’ and walks out of her press conference in TEARS after Australian Open semi-final loss… as speculation mounts she will retire once this season is over
- Serena Williams succumbed to a semi-final defeat by Naomi Osaka on Thursday
- The American 39-year-old lost 6-3 6-4 as Osaka progressed to Saturday’s final
- Williams was emotional as she spoke to the media after her Australian Open loss
- Osaka will face American Jennifer Brady as she bids to win her third Grand Slam
- But for Williams, she remains on 23 majors – and has cast her future into doubt
Serena Williams raised questions about her future after losing at the Australian Open and then fleeing her post-match press conference in tears.
The American had slightly lingered on the Rod Laver Arena and touched her chest after a 6-3 6-4 semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka. She then became emotional when speaking to the media afterwards.
Having been asked a relatively anodyne question about the unforced errors she made in the match she replied, ‘I don’t know, I’m done,’ and then walked out of the room as she struggled to control her emotions.
Moments before that she had been asked if she might have been saying goodbye to Melbourne Park, after her latest chance of equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles had slipped away.
‘If I ever say farewell I wouldn’t tell anyone,’ she responded. It is now four years since she won a major and suggestions that she is considering retirement continue to grow.
Serena Williams broke down in tears at her departing press conference at the Australian Open
The American had slightly lingered on the Rod Laver Arena as she waved to the Aussie fans
Serena later posted this photo on Instagram and admitted: ‘It was not the ideal outcome or performance but it happens…’
At 39 she had just been comprehensively beaten by a younger opponent in a display that had fallen well short of her display in the previous round.
‘Just made too many mistakes there, easy mistakes. Not like I was on the run or anything, they were just easy, easy mistakes,’ she said.
‘The difference today was errors. I made so many errors today. Honestly, there were opportunities where I could have won. I could have been up 5-0.’
She had put her departure from the court down to wanting to wave to the crowd, which had been allowed back in after a five-day lockdown. ‘The Aussie crowd is so amazing, so it was nice to see,’ she said.
Yet in truth it did not look like the event had been able to sell even the limited 7,500 tickets that were on sale for the day session, with huge expanses of empty seats inside the stadium.
Serena’s Reddit co-founder husband Alexis Ohanian watched from the stands on Thursday
The American was second-best on the day as Naomi Osaka took her place in Saturday’s final
Osaka will be the heavy favourite against Jennifer Brady in Saturday’s final after the American came through in three sets, 6-4 3-6 6-4, against Czech player Karolina Muchova in the second semi-final.
‘It’s always an honour to play Serena,’ Osaka said after her win, although how many more chances she will get to do that is open to question.
Osaka maintains her record of performing way better on hard courts than anything else, and is in her fourth Slam final, despite never having made it past the third round at Wimbledon or Roland Garros.
Williams played superbly against Simona Halep in the previous round and would have needed to do so again against a more potent ballstriker.
She secured the early break but then lost seven out of eight games to fall badly behind. Neither player was consistent on first serve and could not get above a 50 per cent strike rate on it all match.
Osaka was broken when up 4-3 in the second set but then reeled off eight straight points
For Williams, four years after her last major, the wait to equal Margaret Court’s record goes on
But when she did get it in Osaka was enjoying success, and she also benefitted from her opponent being so off on her groundstrokes.
The match played at a notably quick pace, the Japanese player raced to a 4-3 lead in the second before suddenly being struck by nerves. She served three double faults to be broken, and present a still subdued Williams with a golden opportunity.
Instead, in a final unpredictable twist, Osaka reeled off the last eight points to romp home, with the American’s final shot a tame backhand into the net. It was not much of a way to go.