Serena Williams suffered a likely career-ending defeat when she was knocked out of the US Open on Friday (September 2) by Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic.
The 23-time Grand Slam title winner, and six-time champion in New York, lost her third round clash 7-5, 6-7 (4/7), 6-1.
Williams, who turns 41 in three weeks' time, had said she remained "vague" over her retirement plans but without a major title since 2017, her 27-year-career is now almost certainly over.
On Wednesday, Serena dramatically extended her iconic career with a never-say-die, three-set victory over world number two Anett Kontaveit at the US Open.
The 40-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam title winner triumphed 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-2 in front of a raucous, partisan Arthur Ashe Stadium Court crowd to reach the third round of a tournament she has won six times.
Having declared that she was already “evolving away from tennis” after a 27-year career, Williams’ force of will ensured that the retirement party was put on hold for a little longer.
“There’s no rush,” said Serena on court when reminded that she had declared herself to be in the closing stages of her career.
“There’s still a little left in me so we’ll see. I’m a pretty good player. I love a challenge.”
“I’m just Serena, you know. Honestly after I lost the second set I thought ‘oh my goodness, I’ve got to give my best effort because this could be it.”