World number one Iga Światek has paid a touching tribute to Serena Williams following the news that she will be stepping back from tennis.
The 23-time Grand Slam recently penned an emotional letter in Vogue announcing she is starting to ‘evolve away’ from the sport she has dominated for so long.
Much like many other young players, including Coco Gauff, Światek admitted she had hoped she would get the opportunity to play against Williams before she retired.
“Pretty sad I wasn’t able to play against her. Maybe I’ll have the chance,” Światek said during a recent press conference during the National Bank Open.
The world number one breezed through her first match in Canada against Ajla Tomljanović and will face Beatriz Haddad Maia in the next round.
For Williams though, her run came to an end after she suffered a second round defeat at the hands of Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic.
A tearful Williams said her farewell to a roaring Canadian crowd as she left the court of the WTA 1000 event for the final time.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion is on the entry list for this year’s US Open, so Światek could get her chance to play against the tennis legend.
However, it looks likely that after her announcement, Flushing Meadows will be Williams’ last appearance on the tennis court.
Światek also praised Williams for her dedication to her sport, her business and being a mother.
The former world number one was two months pregnant with her daughter Olympia when she won the Australian Open in 2017. After giving birth, she competed in four Grand Slam finals but was unable to achieve the elusive record-equalling 24th major title.
But reaching the final of four Grand Slams after becoming a parent is still a huge achievement and one that has inspired younger players like Światek.
“Being able to do business and tennis at the same time, but also be a mother and do four Slam finals, is amazing,” the Polish star said. “I’d be happy to have that belief that maybe I can do that.”
In her feature for Vogue, Williams addressed the difficult decision she has been faced with and said she felt she wouldn’t be in such a dilemma if she were a male athlete.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair.
“If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labour of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.
“Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia.
“I was one of those annoying women who adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to the hospital — although things got super complicated on the other side.
“And I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don’t realise that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.”