After an illustrious career spanning 27 years and 23 grand slam titles, Serena Williams is bidding goodbye to tennis. On Saturday at the US Open, she played what could likely be her last match, ultimately losing to Ajla Tomljanovic in a lengthy three set battle. But Williams walks away from the sport an undisputed legend who paved the way for several young girls to dream of a career as a professional athlete. As she left Arthur Ashe Stadium following the defeat, tributes began pouring in from friends, family, and fans alike.
Here are five ways her career and legacy is being celebrated.
1. Olympia’s braids
Olympia rocking the beaded braids like her mama used to pic.twitter.com/dkTAU16d2q
— Aaron Randle (@aaronronel) August 29, 2022
Serena’s daughter, Olympia Ohanian, recreated one of Serena’s iconic looks at her first round US Open match by wearing white beaded braids. Both Serena and Venus Williams wore the same hairstyle at the 1999 US Open, where the former won her first major title. Serena has been vocal about the significance of wearing braids and passing down the important cultural tradition to her daughter.
View this post on Instagram
— ATP Tour (@atptour) September 1, 2022
The hashtag went viral across Instagram and Twitter after athletes and fans used it to express how grateful they were for Serena’s contributions to the tennis world. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) and the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), compiled videos of other tennis players such as Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Naomi Osaka, and icons of the past like Martina Navratilova congratulating Serena on a remarkable career and wishing her the best for the next chapter of her life.
3. Dear Serena
— wta (@WTA) September 3, 2022
The official account of the WTA posted a video that they described as ‘A letter from Tennis’ to Serena. It featured unforgettable moments from her career, and another tennis great, Billie Jean King, voiced it. “You broke the mould for future generations,” King says in the video. “You inspired them to follow their own path.”
4. Nike’s ‘Serena Legacy’ advertisement
Serena’s longtime sponsor released a special advertisement celebrating her legacy and thanking her for changing tennis for the generations to come. The commercial captures her origins in Compton, her love for family, and her success against all odds. “She didn’t change who she was, and that changed everything. For all of us.”
Celebrate greatness, honor a legacy and #TwirlForSerena.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 29, 2022
Serena’s elegant but powerful twirl after every victory is ingrained in the minds and hearts of her fans. Now, as she does the signature celebration perhaps for the last few times after playing a professional match, her fans have a chance to recreate it, share the video online, and become a part of a worldwide tribute. It’s a fitting way to commemorate all that she stood for – passion, resilience, and confidence against all odds.