Serena Williams cries as she bids emotional farewell to her fans after being beaten in straight sets at the Canadian Open: Superstar will retire after US Open
- Serena Williams lost 6-2 6-4 against Belinda Bencic in Toronto on Wednesday
- It was her first match since she announced that she will retire soon from tennis
- Williams gave an emotional thank you and goodbye to her fans in Canada
- At 40, she has just two tournaments left before her impending retirement
Serena Williams struggled to contain her emotions in Toronto as the reality of her impending retirement hit following her Canadian Open defeat by Belinda Bencic.
A day after announcing her plan to retire, Serena Williams was beaten in straight sets by her Swiss opponent in the second round as one of the final pages in her remarkable career drew to a close.
Bencic dropped just six games in a 6-2 6-4 victory where Williams showed flashes of her best, but no more. Her opponent stayed composed, refused to let the gravity of the match unsettle her and advances into round three.
Speaking on court afterwards, Williams thanked her fans in Canada for their support across the course of her playing tenure but found it difficult to hold back the tears.
‘Thank you,’ she said, her voice crackling. ‘It was a lot of emotion, I love playing here and always love paying here.
‘I wish I could have played better but Belinda played so well today. It has been an interesting 24 hours.’
Serena Williams lost to Belinda Bencic in her first match since announcing retirement plans
Williams wipes away the tears during her interview after losing, with her retirement looming
Tournament organizers handed Williams a bouquet of flowers before she departed the court
‘I have always had some amazing times here on and off court and I’ll be coming back as a visitor to the city. I’ve had some crazy matches here.
‘I was really happy to be out here today and thank you for the support. It has been a joy playing in front of you guys all these years.’
Prior to the match, a video played with greetings from retired tennis great Billie Jean King, some rising stars like Coco Gauff and others, as well as Canadian hockey icon Wayne Gretzky.
‘Serena Williams, Willie O’Ree in hockey, Jackie Robinson in baseball. They changed everything,’ Gretzky said. ‘They changed the culture of sports and what Serena did for boys and girls throughout the world is spectacular. Serena, congratulations on a wonderful career.’
Bencic paid tribute to the rival she had just beaten, saying on court: ‘Tonight was really special, it is also overwhelming as it is always an honor to play Serena. Tonight is about her.’
Fans flocked to Sobeys Stadium in Toronto Wednesday night to say goodbye to the 23-time Grand Slam champion. The stadium packed in 12,500 fans, and for the first time ever, the tournament set up an outdoor viewing area to fit another 5,000 fans.
The 40-year-old Williams was handed gifts, including flowers, by tournament organizers before she made her way off the court to huge cheers and applause by her fans.
Williams will play the Western and Southern Open which begins on August 15 and then bow out at the US Open, which starts August 29.
Williams’s husband Alexis and daughter Olympia were watching her match in Toronto
Bencic competed hard against Williams and was a deserved winner on the night in Toronto
Williams, 40, showed flashes of her best but 12th seed Bencic handled the occasion well
Williams announced her retirement on Monday, in the latest issue of Vogue.
‘I have never liked the word,’ Williams wrote. ‘It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.
‘Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution,’ she continued. ‘I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.
‘In the last year, Alexis (her husband) and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family,’ Williams wrote.
‘I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.’