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Serena Williams, the Abu Dhabi favourite, featured twice at MWTC, including the historic first women’s match in 2017. Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Organisers of the region’s leading tennis experience, the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, have paid tribute to a “legend of the sport” after Serena Williams announced her immediate retirement from sport following her US Open defeat.

Williams hangs up her racket after a glittering career in which she took women’s tennis to unparalleled heights, with her powerful, attacking style securing 23 Grand Slam singles crowns and a total haul of 73 professional singles titles.

A true trailblazer and outspoken advocate for equality in the women’s game, Williams made Abu Dhabi tennis history when she appeared in the first-ever women’s match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in 2017, where she faced Jelena Ostapenko. Always a huge draw for crowds, Williams returned in 2018 for a thrilling match-up against elder sister, Venus.

During a trophy-laden journey spanning 27 years. Serena also secured 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, three Olympic golds in doubles and the 2012 Olympic singles gold.

Greatest female player

Following the end of her outstanding career, tributes poured in for Williams, and Mubadala World Tennis Championship officials reserved their own special praise for the greatest female tennis player in recent history.

“It was a big moment for our championship when we introduced the women’s match for the first time in 2017, and it was a major coup that Serena Williams marked that historic occasion,” said John Lickrish, CEO of Flash Entertainment. “That match five years ago set the benchmark for the women’s match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship, and the women’s encounter has subsequently evolved into a huge draw as the Day 1 finale of our three-day festival. Serena is a legend of our sport, and we thank her for inspiring people in Abu Dhabi as part of her mission to grow tennis and leading a future generation of women and girls all over the world. She loved the event, and our city. We wish her the very best in her future endeavours – she is always welcome back to the Emirates as a competitor or spectator.”

The line-up for this year’s Mubadala World Tennis Championship will be announced in the coming weeks.