Serena Williams Pulls Out Of US Open

US player Serena Williams reacts as she withdraws from her women’s singles first round match against Belarus’s Aliaksandra Sasnovich on the second day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Serena Williams has pulled out of the US Open, after failing to recover from a hamstring injury sustained during the Wimbledon tournament.

The 23-time Grand Slam singles winner disclosed via a post on Instagram that her body needed time to “heal completely” from a torn hamstring.

 

“After careful consideration and following the advice of my doctors and medical team, I have decided to withdraw from the US Open to allow my body to heal completely from a torn hamstring,” the post read. “Thank you for your continued love and support. I’ll see you soon.”

The four-time Olympic gold medalist had suffered a hamstring injury during Wimbledon earlier in the year that forced her to pull out of the tournament.

Her exit from the competition is the second time she is retiring from a major tournament.

Williams joins defending men’s champion Dominic Thiem, Roger Federer and world number five Rafael Nadal in withdrawing from this year’s Grand Slam

Serena Williams Retires In Tears From Wimbledon 


US player Serena Williams reacts as she withdraws from her women’s singles first-round match against Belarus’s Aliaksandra Sasnovich on the second day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

American legend Serena Williams’s dreams of winning an eighth Wimbledon singles title and equalling Margaret Court’s Grand Slam singles record of 24 ended in tears on Tuesday.

The 39-year-old was leading 3-1 in the first set of her first round match against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus when she slipped and had to have her left ankle examined.

Williams returned from receiving medical attention but called it a day at 3-3 and walked off Centre Court in tears.

It is the first time that Williams has bowed out in the first round of Wimbledon.

The tears said it all as with the withdrawals of 2019 champion Simona Halep and of Naomi Osaka prior to the tournament the American would have fancied her chances of at last equalling the controversial Court’s landmark.

Williams was giving the Olympics a miss anyways giving her time to recover ahead of the US Open in September which she has won six times.

“Brutal for @serenawilliams but centre court is extremely slippy out there. Not easy to move out there,” tweeted British star Andy Murray.

Williams, who also had strapping on her right thigh, hasn’t won a Slam since the 2017 Australian Open.

READ ALSO: England Face Germany In Euro 2020 Blockbuster After France Make Shock Exit


US player Serena Williams reacts as she pulls-up injured before withdrawing from her women’s singles first-round match against Belarus’s Aliaksandra Sasnovich on the second day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on June 29, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

William’s slip came at the same end of the court as that of Adrian Mannarino which brought a premature end to the Frenchman’s hard-fought match with Roger Federer.

Mannarino slipped and fell late in the fourth set and pulled out at the beginning of the fifth set.

Federer remarked he felt that the surface was more slippery when the roof is in use which it had been due to rain earlier on Tuesday.

AFP

Serena Williams Joins Nadal In Missing Tokyo Olympics

US player Serena Williams attends a press conference in the Main Interview Room at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, south-west London, on June 27, 2021, ahead of the start of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament. (Photo by AELTC/Florian Eisele / POOL / AFP)

 

“I’m actually not on the Olympic list, so… Not that I’m aware of. If so, then I shouldn’t be on it,” she said.

She refused to divulge the reasons for her decision.

However, a ban on foreign fans as well as family members at the Olympics would have meant Williams being separated from her daughter Alexis Olympia.

The Olympics have already been delayed by a year and organisers have been forced to introduce strict measures to fight Covid-19.

“There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision,” she said.

“I don’t feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry.”

Williams is the joint most successful Olympian in tennis history in terms of gold medals alongside sister Venus having won one gold medal each in singles and three in doubles.

Venus edges the medal count slightly as she also won a silver in mixed doubles in 2016 in Rio.

Serena, who is bidding to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon, added she had not really thought about what it would mean to miss the Games.

She won the 2012 Olympic singles title in London on the same Centre Court where she has won seven Wimbledon singles titles.

She also won doubles gold with sister Venus in Sydney (2000), Beijing (2008) and London.

“I have not thought about it (missing the Games),” said Williams, who plays world number 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus in the first round at Wimbledon.

“In the past it’s been a wonderful place for me. I really haven’t thought about it, so I’m going to keep not thinking about it.”

Nadal announced earlier this month he would be missing Wimbledon and the Olympics so as to look after his body and prolong his career.

His great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have yet to decide whether they will go to Tokyo.

Federer, who like Serena is 39, said Saturday it will depend on how he fares at Wimbledon.

Two-time defending Olympic singles champion Andy Murray will be going, fitness permitting, as he has been selected in the Team GB squad.

Austrian Dominic Thiem will be another absentee.

The 27-year-old 2020 US Open champion announced his decision on the same day as Nadal and just before he withdrew from Wimbledon due to a wrist injury.

AFP

Serena Williams Joins Nadal In Missing Tokyo Olympics

US player Serena Williams wearing a protective face covering to combat the spread of the coronavirus, leaves after a practice session at the Aorangi Practice Courts at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, south-west London, on June 27, 2021, ahead of the start of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships tennis tournament. AELTC / Edward Whitaker / POOL / AFP

 

Serena Williams said Sunday that she will not compete at the Tokyo Olympics next month, joining fellow Grand Slam legend Rafael Nadal in withdrawing from the Games.

The 39-year-old American revealed her decision at her pre-Wimbledon press conference.

“I’m actually not on the Olympic list, so… Not that I’m aware of. If so, then I shouldn’t be on it,” she said.

She refused to divulge the reasons for her decision.

However, a ban on foreign fans as well as family members at the Olympics would have meant Williams being separated from her daughter Alexis Olympia.

The Olympics have already been delayed by a year and organisers have been forced to introduce strict measures to fight COVID-19.

“There’s a lot of reasons that I made my Olympic decision,” she said.

“I don’t feel like going into them today. Maybe another day. Sorry.”

Williams is the joint-most successful Olympian in tennis history in terms of gold medals alongside sister Venus having won one gold medal each in singles and three in doubles.

Venus edges the medal count slightly as she also won a silver in mixed doubles in 2016 in Rio.

Serena, who is bidding to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles at Wimbledon, added she had not really thought about what it would mean to miss the Games.

She won the 2012 Olympic singles title in London on the same Centre Court where she has won seven Wimbledon singles titles.

She also won doubles gold with sister Venus in Sydney (2000), Beijing (2008) and London.

“I have not thought about it (missing the Games),” said Williams, who plays world number 100 Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus in the first round at Wimbledon.

“In the past it’s been a wonderful place for me. I really haven’t thought about it, so I’m going to keep not thinking about it.”

Nadal announced earlier this month he would be missing Wimbledon and the Olympics so as to look after his body and prolong his career.

His great rivals Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have yet to decide whether they will go to Tokyo.

Federer, who like Serena is 39, said Saturday it will depend on how he fares at Wimbledon.

Two-time defending Olympic singles champion Andy Murray will be going, fitness permitting, as he has been selected in the Team GB squad.

Austrian Dominic Thiem will be another absentee.

The 27-year-old 2020 US Open champion announced his decision on the same day as Nadal and just before he withdrew from Wimbledon due to a wrist injury.

Serena Williams Fails In Latest 24th Grand Slam Bid, Crash Out Of French Open

Serena Williams of the US reacts as she plays against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina during their women’s singles fourth round tennis match on Day 8 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 6, 2021. Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

 

Serena Williams’ latest quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title ended in the French Open last 16 on Sunday, hours after Roger Federer pulled out of what was possibly his last appearance at Roland Garros.

The 39-year-old Williams, still one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record for most Grand Slam singles titles, lost 6-3, 7-5 to Kazakh 21st seed Elena Rybakina, while Federer withdrew as a precaution to protect his body for Wimbledon.

The American won the last of her three Roland Garros titles in 2015, and has not gone beyond the fourth round in Paris since losing the 2016 final.

“It was definitely close. I’m so close. There is literally a point here, a point there, that could change the whole course of the match,” said Williams.

“I’m not winning those points. That like literally could just change everything.”

Her exit leaves just two of the women’s top 10 seeds in the competition, reigning champion Iga Swiatek and last year’s runner-up Sofia Kenin.

Williams, who despite arriving here with just one win on clay this season, had seen her title hopes of boosted by the absence of Simona Halep, and early exits of Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka.

Instead, she remains without a Grand Slam title since winning the 2017 Australian Open in the early stages of her pregnancy.

“I’m in a much better place than when I got here,” Williams said.

“You know, (I was) just literally trying to win a match, because it had been a really difficult season for me on the clay.”

Williams, who debuted at Roland Garros in 1998, refused to be drawn on whether this was her last French Open.

“I’m definitely not thinking about it at all. I’m definitely thinking just about other things but not about that,” she said.

Russian-born Rybakina, 21, extended her best run at a major as she advanced to her first quarter-final, where she will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova for a spot in the last four.

“I am so happy with my match, it was amazing,” said Rybakina, who at 22 is the highest-ranked player left in her half of the draw.

Serena Williams of the US reacts as she plays against Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina during their women’s singles fourth round tennis match on Day 8 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 6, 2021. Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP

READ ALSO: Neymar Says Nike Claim Of Split Over Sex Assault Probe A ‘Lie’

‘Listening to my body’ 

Earlier, Federer made the decision to withdraw from what was possibly his last French Open, unwilling to risk his troublesome knee after an injury-plagued past 18 months.

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam title winner, who will be 40 in August, had battled over three and a half hours until 12.45am Sunday morning to reach the last 16.

“After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today,” Federer said.

“After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

“I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”

The Swiss star, playing only his third tournament since last year’s Australian Open, was due to play Italy’s Matteo Berrettini on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.

Federer’s return this year was only his second French Open participation since 2015.

Switzerland's Roger Federer serves the ball to Germany's Dominik Koepfer during their men's singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP
File photo: Switzerland’s Roger Federer serves the ball to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer during their men’s singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, fancied to reach his first Grand Slam final, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the other half of the draw, sealed his return to the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

A semi-finalist at the past two majors, Tsitsipas was beaten in a thrilling five-setter by Djokovic in Paris eight months ago.

He will next face twice Grand Slam finalist and second seed Daniil Medvedev. The Russian, who hadn’t won a French Open match before this week, eased past Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-2, 6-1, 7-5.

Tamara Zidansek became the first Slovenian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final when she defeated Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

The world number 85, conqueror of former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in round one, will meet Paula Badosa after the Spaniard beat 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova returned to the Roland Garros quarter-finals for the first time since 2011, defeating former world number one Victoria Azarenka 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

AFP

Serena Looks To Take Advantage Of Open Draw At Roland Garros

Serena Williams of the US serves the ball to Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu during their women’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

 

 

Serena Williams will continue her latest bid for an elusive 24th Grand Slam singles crown later on Wednesday at a French Open now without two of the world’s top three-ranked women’s players, while Alexander Zverev reached the men’s third round.

The 39-year-old Williams has already seen two of her likeliest title challengers, who have both beaten her in major finals in recent years, either fail to start the tournament or pull out in unprecedented circumstances.

World number three Simona Halep, the 2018 Roland Garros champion who defeated Williams a year later in the Wimbledon final, withdrew before the event with injury.

The biggest story of the French Open so far has undoubtedly been world number two Naomi Osaka’s shock withdrawal after a press boycott, saying she has been suffering with “bouts of depression” since her breakthrough victory over Williams in the controversial 2018 US Open showpiece match.

Serena, who has been one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Slams since winning the Australian Open four years ago, faces Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu in the second round.

 

Serena Williams of the US returns the ball to Romania’s Irina Begu during their women’s singles first round tennis match at the court Philippe Chatrier on Day 2 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 31, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

The American, seeded eighth, saved two set points in the first set of her opening win over Irina-Camelia Begu — the first ever Roland Garros night match.

“I have to say it was pretty cool to be able to play the first night session ever here at Roland Garros. That was something I thoroughly enjoyed,” said Williams, who is back on Chatrier but during the day session against Buzarnescu.

That means she will play in front of a crowd for the first time this week, as the night sessions are currently being played behind closed doors due to the French government-imposed 9pm curfew.

Zverev battles through

Men’s sixth seed Zverev was in scratchy form but did enough to see off Russian qualifier Roman Safiullin in straight sets.

 

Germany’s Alexander Zverev returns the ball to Russia’s Roman Safiullin during their men’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

 

The German, last year’s US Open runner-up, will take on Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the third round after a 7-6 (7/4), 6-3, 7-6 (7/1) victory.

Zverev had needed to fight back from two sets down in his opening match against qualifier Oscar Otte.

“I’m happy to be through in three sets,” he said. “I’m happy not to have played another five-setter. I think it’s going to be important for me during the course of this tournament.”

Norwegian youngster Casper Ruud continued his excellent year by easing past Poland’s Kamil Majchrzak 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

The 15th seed, who won the title in Geneva last month and has reached three other semi-finals on clay this season, next faces Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Three-time quarter-finalist Kei Nishikori of Japan edged out Russian 23rd seed Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 after three hours and 59 minutes on Chatrier, setting up a last-32 encounter with Swiss qualifier Henri Laaksonen.

 

Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic returns the ball to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina during their women’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

In the women’s draw, Swiss 10th seed Belinda Bencic failed to improve her poor French Open record as she lost 6-2, 6-2 to Russia’s Daria Kasatkina.

Bencic has still never made the second week in five appearances.

Later on Wednesday, second seed Daniil Medvedev will be hoping to back up his first-ever French Open win by going deep into the tournament.

The two-time Grand Slam runner-up is in the half of the draw without any major champions — with Dominic Thiem dumped out at the first hurdle and Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer all in the opposite side.

The Russian, who had lost in the opening round on all four of his previous appearances, will face Tommy Paul of the United States for a place in round three in the evening match.

 

Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas returns the ball to Spain’s Pedro Martinez during their men’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by Christophe ARCHAMBAULT / AFP)

 

Despite Medvedev’s loftier ranking, Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas is probably the favourite to reach the final from the bottom half.

The 22-year-old lost an epic five-set semi-final in Paris last October to Djokovic and also made the last four of the Australian Open in February.

He will take on 103rd-ranked Spaniard Pedro Martinez in round two.

Serena Sails Past Teenager Pigato In Parma WTA

US Serena Williams reacts towards the umpire after losing to Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska during their match of the Women’s Italian Open at Foro Italico on May 12, 2021 in Rome. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

 

Serena Williams brushed aside the challenge of local teenager Lisa Pigato in the opening round of the WTA tournament in Parma on Monday.

Williams, ranked eighth in the world, beat the 572nd-ranked Pigato, making her WTA debut, 6-3, 6-2 in the first meeting between the two players.

The 39-year-old American had been given a wild card to play in Parma after her premature exit from the Italian Open, where she crashed out in the second round in what was her first match in nearly three months since her semi-final defeat in the Australian Open.

Williams, who had already won five Grand Slam tournaments by the time Pigato was born, made a sluggish start as the 17-year-old came up with three glorious winners to break the 23-time Grand Slam champion in the first game.

The American, however, got into gear and dropped just five more points on her serve, firing down six aces and many more that Pigato could barely reach.

Williams, however, was full of praise for her teenage opponent.

“Lisa played really well,” she said in her on-court interview.

“She told me she was only 17. Her future is super-bright. She handled the moment well, so I look forward to cheering for her in the future.”

The Emilia-Romagna Open is a perfect clay warm-up ahead of the French Open, which kicks off in Paris on May 30.

Williams needs one more Grand Slam title to match Australian great Margaret Court’s record of 24 major trophies.

AFP

Serena Crashes Out Of Italian Open On Her 1000th Career Game

US Serena Williams reacts after losing to Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska during their match of the Women’s Italian Open at Foro Italico on May 12, 2021 in Rome. Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP

 

Serena Williams, playing the 1000th WTA match of her career, lost on her return after nearly three months away to Nadia Podoroska in the second round of the WTA Italian Open on Wednesday.

The 39-year-old eighth seed fell 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 in under just two hours to the 44th-ranked Argentine, a surprise semi-finalist at last year’s Roland Garros.

Williams, a four-time Rome winner and 23-time Grand Slam champion had not played since her semi-final defeat in the Australian Open this year.

The early exit is a blow three weeks before the French Open in Paris on May 30 where the American continues her bid to equal Australia’s Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam trophies.

Despite a battling performance, Williams could not wear down the 24-year-old Argentine who broke the American twice in the first set.

Podoroska forced a tie-break with an ace and squandered three set points before sealing the set.

In the second, Williams was trailing 5-2 but held and broke the Argentine to love while she served for the match to level at 5-5.

Podoroska held her nerve to earn three match points to secure just her third career win over a top-10 player, all in the last eight months.

For Williams it was her 149th defeat, with 851 wins over the course of a WTA career covering 1000 matches.

But she will not get to celebrate with the Rome public, with spectators only allowed from Thursday’s third round at the Foro Italico while limited to a 25 percent capacity.

Podoroska next meets Croatia’s Petra Martic, who earlier beat France’s Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-3.

AFP

Returning Serena Raises Doubts Over Olympics Participation

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 1, 2021, Serena Williams of the US wears a face mask as she enters the court to face Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their Yarra Valley Classic women’s singles tennis match in Melbourne. – (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / — IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE – STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE —

 

Serena Williams raised doubts over her participation at the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, ahead of her return to the limelight this week at the Italian Open.

The 39-year-old, still ranked eighth in the world, has been absent from the courts since her semi-final defeat by eventual champion Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open in Melbourne in February.

Williams remains uncommitted about whether she will join up with Team USA in Japan this summer, especially if it means time away from her three-year-old daughter Olympia.

“I haven’t spent 24 hours without her (Olympia) so that kind of answers the question itself,” said the American, who has won four Olympic gold medals, a record she shares with her sister Venus.

“I haven’t really thought much about Tokyo, because it was supposed to be last year and now it’s this year, and then there is this pandemic and there is so much to think about.

“Then there are the Grand Slams. It’s just a lot. So I have really been taking it one day at a time to a fault, and I definitely need to figure out my next moves.”

Williams says she is “ready” to get started again in Rome as preparation for the French Open which starts in Paris on May 24.

“It’s good to start fresh but it’s also hard to start fresh,” she told a press conference on Monday.

“I feel like I’m good. I’m in Rome. I’m going to have some good matches here hopefully and then I will be at another Grand Slam which always makes me excited. So I think either way I’ll be ready.”

Williams has been stuck on 23 major trophies, one behind Australia’s Margaret Court, since winning the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant.

Since then she has given birth, returned to the tour, and finished runner-up at four major tournaments — after losing just six out of 28 finals before 2017.

Speculation about her future followed her Melbourne defeat and her subsequent withdrawal from the Miami Open because of oral surgery, but she insisted she did not pay attention to online whispers.

“I really try not to get involved in too much of what people say about me, because I feel like it can make you nuts,” she said, adding that she had been doing some “very intense” training on clay.

“One thing I’m really good at is just to not really even engage so much but I do feel like people are wondering if I’m playing.

“And I have to say I always am, you just don’t see it. I don’t show what I do. I don’t always show my cards.”

Serena Williams, Gorman Lead Support For Markle Over Royal Racism

Photo Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for DirecTV

 

Tennis superstar Serena Williams and poet Amanda Gorman led an outpouring of support for Meghan Markle following her explosive allegations of racism in the British royal family.

In a two-hour interview with Oprah Winfrey, Markle, whose mother is Black, said her husband Prince Harry revealed his family’s concerns over “how dark” her son Archie’s skin would be.

She also said no members of the royal family had spoken out to defend her against a torrent of what she said was racist coverage from British tabloids.

“Her words illustrate the pain and cruelty she’s experienced,” Williams tweeted after the interview aired on Sunday.

“I know first hand the sexism and racism institutions and the media use to vilify women and people of color to minimize us, to break us down and demonize us,” said Williams, hailing her “selfless friend.”

“We must recognize our obligation to decry malicious, unfounded gossip and tabloid journalism. The mental health consequences of systemic oppression and victimization are devastating, isolating and all too often lethal.”

Markle told Winfrey she had contemplated taking her own life after joining the royal family and that she was denied help during her mental health crisis.

“Royalty is not a shield from the devastation and despair of racism,” Bernice King, daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted in support.

“We can know racism exists in an institution and still hurt for someone who was hurt by it,” she wrote.

“I’m grateful that Meghan Markle is still here.”

– ‘Missed opportunity’ –

African American poet Gorman, who became a star after her reading at President Joe Biden’s inauguration, said the British royal family had missed an opportunity to change.

“Meghan was the Crown’s greatest opportunity for change, regeneration, and reconciliation in a new era. They didn’t just maltreat her light — they missed out on it,” the 22-year-old Gorman tweeted, referencing Prince Harry’s mother Diana, who was killed in a high-speed car crash in Paris in 1997 as she tried to escape paparazzi.

“Meghan is living the life Diana should have, if only those around her had been as brave as she was. Meghan isn’t living a life without pain, but a life without a prison.

“This isn’t Meghan’s princess ‘happy’ ending. But sometimes change, the decisions that bring us the most hurt, aren’t about happiness, but healing.”

Gorman said it was unclear if it would change the royal family, but Markle would inspire women.

“Think of the women who will be inspired to stand up for their lives, the partners who will be kinder & more courageous than the kin they were born into,” she tweeted.

Meena Harris, niece of Vice President Kamala Harris, also voiced support for Markle.

“She was suicidal and begged for help,” she said, adding a tweet with a quote from Markle after discussing her mental health struggles with Winfrey.

“Meghan Markle: ‘I’m still standing.'”

-AFP

Osaka Aims To Inspire New Generation But Says Williams Is Still The Queen

Japan’s Naomi Osaka (L) gives a hug to Serena Williams of the US after their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP) 

 

Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka said she felt comfortable being a role model for the next generation after her fourth Grand Slam victory solidified her position at the forefront of a new era for tennis.

But the Japanese star, a four-time major-winner at the age of just 23, insisted America’s Serena Williams, 39 — who has 23 Slam crowns — remains the face of the women’s game.

Osaka beat America’s Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-3 in the Australian Open final on Saturday to win her fourth Slam from the last eight in which she has played, and extend her year-plus winning streak to 21 matches.

She joins Monica Seles and Roger Federer in winning her first four major finals, and will move up to second in the world rankings.

Her sweeping triumph was viewed as heralding a shift in women’s tennis with Australia’s Fed Cup captain Alicia Molik declaring it a “changing of the guard”, while the New Yorker said Osaka was the “most thrilling athlete of her generation”.

READ ALSO: Djokovic Beats Medvedev To Win Ninth Australian Open

Osaka brushed aside Williams in the semis, after also beating her in the stormy 2018 US Open final to win her first major.

But when asked if she was now taking over from Williams as the game’s leading light, Osaka replied: “No, not at all,” adding that she simply wanted to remain true to herself.

“I have learned on-and-off the court it’s okay to not be sure about yourself,” she said.

“I’m more at peace with where I am, and I’m honestly just happy to be playing a Grand Slam in a pandemic.”

– ‘Growing as a person’ –

After winning her second Australian Open title, Osaka spent a lengthy time signing autographs for fans in a gesture that received widespread applause on social media.

Having once grappled with fame as a shy youngster, a content Osaka said she was still “growing as a person” but hoped to provide inspiration to young players.

“In the past, I felt it as a very strong responsibility, and I was also very scared and nervous of it,” she said.

“It’s a really big honour that there are little kids that like me, that come to my matches and cheer for me.

“But at the same time, I don’t weigh it too heavily on myself.”

A more mature Osaka, who says she gained greater perspective during tennis’s coronavirus shutdown, said she now appreciated the difficulty of winning a Grand Slam.

“I feel like I know how much hard work you have to put into this, because the first time that I have won both these trophies I think, in a way, I was just a kid,” she said, referring to her wins at the 2018 US Open and 2019 Australian Open.

“I didn’t really know what I was doing.”

Her win prompted celebrations in Japan, where she will play the Tokyo Olympics this year, while Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi tweeted his congratulations from the International Space Station.

“There are many Japanese fans who are very excited now that Naomi has won the Australian Open,” Japan’s 58th-ranked Yoshihito Nishioka told AFP ahead of next week’s ATP Singapore Open.

“I’m sure they will be following the progress of Japanese players in more tennis tournaments around the world.”

But Osaka said her biggest goal wasn’t Grand Slam titles, an Olympic medal or returning to world number one.

“I feel like the biggest thing that I want to achieve is… hopefully I play long enough to play a girl that said that I was once her favourite player,” she said.

“For me, I think that’s the coolest thing that could ever happen to me… Unfortunately, I didn’t get to play Li Na, but, I just think that that’s how the sport moves forward.”

‘I’m Done’: Serena Williams Walks Out In Tears After Semi-Final Defeat

This hand out photo released by the Tennis Australia on February 18, 2021 shows Serena Williams of the US gets emotional at a press conference after losing her women’s semi-final match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo by ROB PREZIOSO / TENNIS AUSTRALIA / AFP)

 

Serena Williams broke down in tears and cut short her post-match press conference after another failed bid to equal Margaret Court’s record Grand Slam haul, calling her defeat to Naomi Osaka “a big error day”.

The veteran American’s quest to reach a ninth Australian Open final and match Court’s 24 major singles titles ended in a 6-3, 6-4 semi-final mauling by the Japanese third seed.

Williams, 39, broke early for a 2-0 lead before Osaka reeled off five straight games to leave her shellshocked.

“The difference today was errors. I made so many errors,” said the 23-time Grand Slam champion.

“Honestly, it was opportunities where I could have won. I could have been up 5-0. It was a big error day for me.”

Pressed on what caused her to make so many mistakes, tears began to flow as she told reporters: “I don’t know. I’m done,” before walking out.

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka (L) is congratulated by Serena Williams of the US after their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)

 

In a clash of power games, it was Osaka who had the edge, hitting 20 winners to Williams’s 12, while also committing three fewer unforced errors on 21.

Williams said she had been hitting well all tournament and had no explanation for the loss other than “too many mistakes there, easy mistakes”.

Osaka’s victory left her still stranded on 23 Grand Slam crowns, one short of Court’s tally, with her last major title coming in Melbourne four years ago when she was pregnant.

Williams has lost four Slam finals since and as she walked off court put her hand over her heart, almost as if saying farewell.

Asked about it afterwards, she suggested the gesture was more about acknowledging the crowd, who were allowed back into Rod Laver Arena after a five-day snap lockdown and gave the American a rousing send-off.

 

This hand out photo released by the Tennis Australia on February 18, 2021 shows Serena Williams of the US gets emotional at a press conference after losing her women’s semi-final match against Japan’s Naomi Osaka on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo by ROB PREZIOSO / TENNIS AUSTRALIA / AFP)

“I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone,” she said

But Williams later posted a heartfelt message to her Australian fans on Instagram.

“Today was not ideal outcome or performance but it happens … I am so honoured to be able to play in front of you all,” she said.

“Your support — your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today. I am forever in debt and grateful to each and everyone single one of you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.”

Osaka, who is 16 years younger than Williams and grew up watching her, said she was honoured to be on the same court.

 

Japan’s Naomi Osaka (L) gives a hug to Serena Williams of the US after their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

“I mean, it definitely means a lot. I think, of course, every time I play her, I feel like it’s something I’ll definitely remember a lot,” she said, adding that talk of the American retiring made her “sad”.

“I want her to play forever,” she said. “That’s the little kid in me.”

 

Serena Williams of the US leaves the court after losing to Japan’s Naomi Osaka in their women’s singles semi-final match on day eleven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on February 18, 2021. (Photo by Brandon MALONE / AFP)