Serena Williams’ quest for 24 Grand Slams, and tying Margaret Court’s record, will continue after the American was handed a 6-3, 6-4 loss by the No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semifinals.
Things started out well for Williams, who jumped out to a 2-0 lead and looked poised to make another Australian Open final. But then, Osaka settled down.
“I hit a lot of unforced errors in the first few games and I was just really like nervous and scared I think in the beginning, and I eased my way into it,” Osaka told ESPN’s — and two-time Aussie Open winner himself — Jim Courier on the court after the match.
“Honestly for me, I don’t know, it’s just always an honor to play her and I just didn’t want to go out, like, really bad, so I just wanted to try my best.”
Well, Osaka definitely brought her A-game. While the majority of the stats showed an even match-up, Osaka dominated in winners with 20 to Williams’ 12. Both players struggled with their first serves, and Osaka had eight double faults (Williams had one), but the 23-year-old also had six aces, with a number of them coming at key times.
At her post-match press conference, Williams, who was playing in her 40th Grand Slam semifinal, cited her errors — 18 forced, 24 unforced — as the turning point.
“The difference today was errors,” she said. “I made so many errors today, so, honestly, it was opportunities where I could have won. I could have been up 5-Love. I just made so many errors.”
When asked a few questions later what caused the errors or if it was just a bad day, Williams broke down.
“I don’t know,” she said before adding, appearing on the verge of tears, “I’m done.” She then left the press conference.
Prior to the last question, Wiliams, who turned 39 in September, was asked about why, when she walked off the court, she put her hand to her heart.
“I don’t know. The Aussie crowd is so amazing, so it was nice to see,” she responded. Melbourne had been in a five-day lockdown and Wednesday was the first time fans were allowed back into Melbourne Park.
However, social media immediately reacted to the gesture and contemplated whether this meant it was her last trip Down Under.
“I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone,” she said smiling