As she walked off the seat at Rod Laver Arena on Thursday, Serena Williams paused for a moment as the recently returned crowd stood and showered them with applause.She raised her left arm to wave, before putting her hand over her heart as if to let her know the feeling was mutual.She paused for a moment, soaked in an ovation like the late summer sunshine of Melbourne, and waved again before disappearing into the tunnel

Her run at the Australian Open 2021 was over and was finished in straight sentences in the semifinals by her apparent heiress Naomi Osaka.And then the questions began on TV, on social media and maybe even from your own couch: Was the match everything what was over?

Less than an hour later, while Williams was sitting at the computer in front of dozens of media representatives in person and others around the world, he was asked if the moment in the square was some kind of goodbye

“I don’t know,” she said in her press conference, “If I ever said goodbye, I wouldn’t tell anyone”

She smiled, but it quickly faded. When the next reporter started asking a harmless question about the unusual amount of casual mistakes Williams had in the match, she tried to fight the tears by drinking water, looking down or shielding her eyes with her visor. Her voice broke when she started answering

While Williams himself has not given any specific indication of an imminent retirement, the age of 39-year-olds in sport is inevitably drawing to a close, and whether this will really be the last time we’ll see Williams at the Australian Open or whether she will plays for a few more years, the sport is better because of it, as Osaka itself proves in part

It seemed like Williams would bring it all together these fortnight.She had arguably played her best tennis since returning from maternity leave in 2018 and had gone into the tournament injury-free after recovering from a persistent Achilles tendon injury that forced her on had to retire at the pandemic-delayed French Open in September

Williams held back the strong Aryna Sabalenka in the fourth round in Melbourne in three sets.She had the world number 2 Simona Halep, who Williams defeated in the Wimbledon final 2019, in the quarterfinals

After winning seven titles in Melbourne – including her last one in 2017 when she was pregnant with her daughter Olympia – the city and the tournament hold a special place in Williams’ hearts and it seemed like the perfect place to make history The winner of 23 major titles has not tied Margaret Court’s long-standing record since her return in 2018 and is so close – she has reached four Grand Slam finals and two semi-finals during that time >

Williams had to get past Osaka again for that final opportunity.The 23-year-old had won his previous big meeting in the famous 2018 US Open final, and it was a coincidence for Williams to have another chance against Osaka at the so Much at Stake In a battle of the greatest of all time against the greatest of now, Williams wanted to prove that she was still both

But Osaka versus Serena-ed Serena, just better in every way the way Williams has dominated tennis for so long. Osaka had six aces (to Williams’ three) and an 85% win rate on first serve, winning all four of their breakpoints and Recorded 20 Winners After a nerve-wracking two-game opening struggling with her ball toss, Osaka Williams never opened the door again

Osaka reached her fourth grand final, where she competes against American Jennifer Brady and wants to improve to a perfect 4-0 on the biggest stage.Since her first win at the 2018 US Open, Osaka, who represents Japan, has been in grew up and resident in the United States, rose and become one of the most visible athletes in the world. Like so many, she has her American counterpart Williams to thank

Osaka’s father has now famously started her and her sister in tennis due to the success of Williams and her sister Venus. He followed Richard Williams’ blueprint and put rackets in the hands of his two young daughters

“My young endeavors owe so much to Serena and Venus,” Osaka wrote in a column for The Telegraph last month. “Without these pioneers, there would be no Naomi, no Coco [Gauff], no Sloane [Stephens], no Madison [Keys] Everything we’ve done was inspired by them, and my sister and I would dream of playing them in a Grand Slam final one day “

The Williams sisters’ success motivated many to play a sport they might not otherwise have considered at the 2020 US Open, there was a record of 12 black women, nearly 10% of the field, in The Individual Draw Teenage Robin Montgomery was part of the group, and she didn’t hesitate to discuss the sisters’ impact on their lives when speaking with ESPN ahead of the tournament

“Of course, Serena and Venus have been my role models since I was young,” she said. “My goal is to have the chance to inspire the younger generations as Serena and Venus have inspired my generation and so many other generations”

Throughout her career, Serena Williams has been so much more than “just” a tennis player. She is a pop culture icon with a name, a celebrated businesswoman, a magazine star, and a strong advocate of race and gender equality Osaka is that Followed path Williams paved while finding her own voice and identity

Williams’ legacy extends far beyond trophies, records and aces, while those were impressive It should come as no surprise to see Osaka talk about gender equality during a postmatch press conference like Thursday She is not afraid to take a stand because she has seen this been done countless times before

Osaka will look to expand their trophy case on Saturday as they battle for their fourth Grand Slam title.Williams will have to wait for their next chance to win another if they want to keep playing Williams went on later on Thursday Instagram and posted a picture of herself wearing one of her signature Nike t-shirts and standing with her arms outstretched next to a note to the Australian fans

“It’s a great honor to be able to play in front of all of you,” said part of her post. “Your support – your cheers, I just wish I could have done better for you today. I’m forever in debt and grateful to each and every one of you i love you i love you i love you i adore you “

Many will no doubt speculate on the Post and Thursday’s events, but it is entirely up to Williams to decide when the time will come to go away.She more than deserves this as Osaka after the possible end of Williams’ legendary career When asked, he seemed to be speaking for all Williams fans

“It’s kind of sad when you put it that way because I want her to play forever,” she said, “That’s the little kid in me”

Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Serena v Osaka, Osaka

World News – USA – Serena’s recent loss raises more questions about her future, but not her legacy