Serena Williams: Mats Wilander salutes ‘GOAT’ for changing tennis and showing ‘human’ side with near-misses
Serena Williams looks set to retire after the US Open, having written in Vogue that she is “evolving away” from the sport. Eurosport’s Mats Wilander says the American helped grow tennis’ reach across the world, and says he admires her more her near-misses than for the 23 Grand Slam singles titles she won throughout her career.
Wilander: Serena changed tennis and her retirement will be a sad day
Serena Williams goes down as one of the greatest athletes of all time, according to Eurosport’s Mats Wilander, who says his admiration grew for the American after she showed her “human” side during her career near-misses.
And Wilander – a seven-time Grand Slam champion – praised Williams for transcending tennis and elevating the sport to a wider audience, but also for fighting through some “heart-breaking” defeats – including losses in her past four major finals, and the 2015 US Open semi-final which ended her Calendar Grand Slam hopes.
“Serena Williams saying farewell to professional tennis is going to be a sad day, she has meant so much for the sport of tennis. Not just on the women’s side, but the men’s side as well,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“She has transcended the sport and taken tennis into living rooms and TVs that normally would not watch tennis. Serena Williams is considered the greatest female tennis player of all time, maybe the greatest player male or female.
“I remember the heartbreak of her having 23 Grand Slam titles and making a couple of finals and not being able to get that elusive 24th.
'Serena is the reason I play' Gauff shocked at retirement
“I also remember when she lost to Roberta Vinci at the US Open [in the semi-finals], when she had a chance to win the Calendar Grand Slam a few years back [in 2015].
“Serena has shown she is one of the greatest athletes of all time in any sport, but she’s also shown that she’s human, and that’s where our passion and admiration for Serena Williams… it really doesn’t end anywhere.”
Williams had herself written in Vogue claiming she could have ended her career on 30-plus slams, while she will soon switch her focus to growing her family and several business ventures once eventually stepping off the court for good.
“She’s going to evolve into other things. We’ve seen how she’s dealing with motherhood and being married,” Wilander added.
Serena 'evolving away from tennis' as countdown begins to US Open finale
“Great things are still to come for Serena, at this moment I’m assuming the US Open will be her last tournament. If it is, I’m going to be one of the saddest people in the world, but also very proud and honoured to have covered her for so many years for Eurosport.
“Good luck Serena, and thank you for all you have done to our sport.”