US tennis legend Williams pays tribute to CRAZY crowd Arthur Ashe

“I’m Serena 2.0!”: Williams vows to “give it my all” for her latest tournament and praises a “CRAZY” Arthur Ashe audience… as Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King lead tributes at the farewell ceremony

  • Serena Williams beat Danka Kovinic 6-3, 6-3 to reach the second round of the US Open
  • After the game, the US Open organizers paid an emotional tribute to the six-time champion
  • Williams thanked the “mad” crowd on Arthur Ashe and urged them to move on
  • Oprah Winfrey and Billie Jean King delivered speeches to a packed crowd

Serena Williams paid tribute to the ‘mad’ Arthur Ashe crowd and opened up about her impending retirement after securing a US Open first-round win over Danka Kovinic on Monday night.

Williams, 40, won 6-3, 6-3 against her opponent in Flushing Meadows – on the same court she has already won six US Open titles in her extraordinary career.

Addressing the crowd during an emotional farewell ceremony in Queens, she said: “First of all, thank you. I didn’t expect any of this. You know, I always have to do my best. I feel so comfortable on this pitch in front of everyone here. When I go out on the pitch I just want to do the best I can that day.

Serena Williams was happy about the victory in the first round of her final tournament

Serena Williams was happy about the victory in the first round of her final tournament

Williams addressed the crowd after organizers paid an emotional tribute to the six-time champion

Williams addressed the crowd after organizers paid an emotional tribute to the six-time champion

Billie Jean King also spoke fondly of Williams, reminiscing about the couple's very first meeting

Billie Jean King also spoke fondly of Williams, reminiscing about the couple’s very first meeting

“The audience was CRAZY. They really helped me get through. I was really pumped up, like “yeah I got that”.

“It was such a tough decision. Yes, very difficult decision. I think when you’re passionate about something and you love something so much, it’s always hard to walk away. Sometimes it gets harder to walk away than it is now. I’ve been trying to decide what to do for a while. I do [still love this game]. I also love it because it keeps you fit which is a bonus.

“I thought, ‘Okay, I think now is the time.’ I have a family. There are other chapters in life, I call it an evolution.

“I have my company, Serena Ventures. Like I said, we invest in a lot of people, women, women of color, and men too. I really wanted to spend more time at home and work on my spiritual life. It’s like Serena 2.0. I’ll still be intense… I’ll still be there.

Fans held up cards to show the message

Fans held up cards to show the message “We love Serena” on Arthur Ashe after the match

Williams speaks to her daughter and husband on the court after winning the first round match

Williams speaks to her daughter and husband on the court after winning the first round match

“I have six medleys to represent the six wins, but I took four out because it was too difficult!

“I just want people to think about how hard you try. It’s so important to give your all, no matter what you do, no matter how many obstacles you face. I’ve been out in public so many times and I needed to come back but never give up. It sounds cliche, but no matter what you’re going through, I just want people to be inspired by my story. I’m from Compton, California and I made it!

‘That is [it]. We’re laying it all out here… I can’t speak for my sister but it’s going to be so much fun to play doubles. It’s going crazy. We haven’t done it for so long and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I look forward to waking up and being like, ‘I don’t have to run to court today. I look forward to being a good mother. She’s such a good girl.

“I’m just me, I’m just Serena. Sometimes I feel like I just blend in with the crowd. I feel like I do

“Just keep coming out and supporting me while I’m here. You just have to know that I love you so much and that I’m so excited to be here!’

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Maureen Mackey

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