All good things must come to an end, and for Serena Williams the end – or what seems like the end – of one of the greatest athletic careers in history came calling in Flushing Meadows on Friday night.
The 40-year-old Williams bowed out in the third-round of the US Open, losing to Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 5-7, 7-6, 1-6.
As she stood on the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium for what may be the final time, social media became a memorial book of sorts on a career that inspired so many from all walks of life.
From legends like Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter, to tennis players such as Ons Jabeur and Carlos Alcaraz to NBA and WNBA stars like Breanna Stewart, JR Smith, Isaiah Thomas, and Diamond DeShields, to retired women’s athletes of years gone, Serena Williams drew the admiration and attention of all those who love sports.
‘You’re literally the greatest on and off the court,’ Serena’s friend Tiger Woods wrote.
‘Thank you for inspiring all of us to pursue our dreams. I love you little sis!!!!!!’
NFL superstar Patrick Mahomes tweeted, ‘Thank you #Serena’ with three goat emojis.
Baseball Hall of Famer Derek Jeter commented, ‘It’s been a joy watching greatness. Thank you Serena!’
More tributes poured in from legends and current athletes alike.
‘We just witnessed the last US Open for the greatest of all time, Serena Williams!!,’ said Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson.
‘Serena has meant so much to sports, the game of tennis, the world, every little girl, and even more to every little Black girl across the globe.’
‘The greatest of all time. It’s been a privilege to watch history. Congrats on an incredible career @serenawilliams,’ wrote Olympic ski champion Lindsey Vonn.
‘I’m so grateful for @serenawilliams. What she has given this sport and us will never be lost on me,’ Olympic champion sprinter Allyson Felix tweeted.
Two-time World Cup winner Alex Morgan tweeted, ‘Serena fighting until the last point, always. You’ve given so much to tennis, and so much to womens sports. Thank you @serenawilliams.’
Current and former tennis players also chipped in their thanks and admiration.
In an Instagram story, Rafael Nadal posted, ‘Thanks @SerenaWilliams for everything you’ve done for our sport!!! Amazing champion.’
‘I love you @serenawilliams. It’s been the pleasure of a lifetime to watch you become what you have. Can’t wait to see that you do next. Thank you my old friend,’ tweeted former US Open winner Andy Roddick.
Wimbeldon women’s finalist Ons Jabeur tweeted a picture of Williams with the words, ‘thank you Serena’ between heart emojis.
Tennis icon Billie Jean King tweeted, ‘Her incredible career made its mark on tennis history. And yet her greatest contributions my be yet to come. Thank you, @serenawilliams. Your journey continues.’