"Retirement? I don't know, the people here in Australia are fantastic, it was nice to have them around. If I ever quit tennis, I wouldn't tell anyone. I don't know, I'm done." Tears: salty, not sweet, for the umpteenth time after the last Grand Slam triumph, right here in Melbourne in 2017, despite Serena Williams being a few weeks pregnant.
Then four Grand Slam finals and as many disappointments, and that record Slem that she just doesn't want to arrive, which from a dream has quickly become a nightmare. The 2021 Australian Open semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka was the pinnacle.
In the press conference, Serena left after a few minutes, in tears, letting it leak out with that: I'm done, many, too many things. Is Serena one step away from goodbye? Her withdrawal looms like a shadow over her. How it hangs over Roger Federer.
But the swan song can't be that close. many think that the Australian Ope n 2021 will be the last tournament of the American champion. But perhaps, at least until the US Open, Williams should go on.
Serena Williams: This can no longer be the end
With three more chances to win the long-dreamed 24th Major and finally snatch and share that record from Margaret Smith's sole hands.
To close with a flourish, perhaps, in front of her crowd at the US Open. It is unlikely that she will also play in 2022, but who knows ... Now Serena speaks with the eyes of disappointment, the defeat against Osaka, in any case, will have repercussions.
"I wish Serena would play forever," said Naomi Osaka about her rival. The Japanese seems to be Williams' only true heir, the only one able to take her role, to be as dominant as Serena was. On her social media Serena entrusted her greeting to Australian fans.
It looks like the farewell passage, and it's also written with a cool head, but who knows how cold. Serena will have time to think about it: "It wasn't a great day, but it was an honor to play in front of all of you.
I would have liked to do better in front of your support and your applause. I will be forever grateful, I love you!" The headlines about an amazing career can't be an interrupted press conference complete with tears and runaway.
Serena deserves a different, better ending, whether it's glorious or not. The retreat seems ever more inexorably close, but why not postpone that appointment for a few more months?