Serena Williams, majestic career celebrated after falling in US Open – USA TODAY

Serena Williams’ career likely came to a close Friday night with her three-set loss to Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round of the U.S. Open. 
Despite the setback, the 40-year-old’s brilliance was on display once again – she won a second-set tiebreaker and fought off numerous match points, reminding everyone that she’s perhaps the greatest tennis player of all time.
The emotion showed for Williams after the match, especially when she began thanking her family. She was especially thankful for sister Venus Williams, telling the crowd at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium that “she’s the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed.” 
The love Williams expressed in her post-match speech was returned by some of the most famous people in the world. 
After the 23-time Grand Slam champion’s loss, athletes, celebrities and politicians flooded Twitter celebrating one of the greatest tennis careers we’ve ever seen and thanking Williams for everything she’s done for the sport and the world at large. 
“Serena, THANK YOU. It is because of you I believe in this dream,” wrote Coco Gauff, who defeated fellow American Madison Keys earlier in the day. “The impact you’ve had on me goes beyond any words that can be put together and for that I say thank you, thank you, thank you, GOAT!” 
“Her incredible career made its mark on tennis history. And yet her greatest contributions may be yet to come. Thank you, @serenawilliams. Your journey continues,” wrote Billie Jean King, the trail-blazing 12-time singles Grand Slam champion. 
“I love you @serenawilliams,” wrote Andy Roddick, the last American man to win the U.S. Open. “It’s been the pleasure of a lifetime to watch you become what you have. Can’t wait to see what you do next. Thank you my old friend.” 
“Serena. Thank you for being you and the inspiration to so many men and women,” wrote James Blake. “I’ve never seen a more intense competitor and it was an honor to share a court with you and watch history. Simply the best.” 
World Golf Hall of Famer Tiger Woods, who took in Williams’ thrilling second-round victory in her player’s box, wrote: “[email protected] you’re literally the greatest on and off the court. Thank you for inspiring all of us to pursue our dreams. I love you little sis!!!!!!” 
South Carolina women’s basketball Dawn Staley called Williams “The GOAT of all GOATS.
“Thank you @serenawilliams thank you! You are the goat of all goats,” Staley wrote. “You came. You’re leaving. Tennis and the world are both changed because of your impact. #simplythebest” 
“We just witnessed the last US Open for the greatest of all time, Serena Williams!! Serena has meant so much to sports, the game of tennis, the world, every little girl, and even more to every little Black girl across the globe,” wrote Basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson. 
U.S. women’s national soccer team greats Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan both saluted Williams.
“Serena fighting until the last point, always. You’ve given so much to tennis, and so much to women’s sports. Thank you @serenawilliams,” Morgan wrote
Wrote Lloyd: “Greatest of all time @serenawilliams! You will be missed.” 
“I’m so grateful for @serenawilliams,” wrote Allyson Felix, herself recently retired from the most decorated track career in American history. “What she has given this sport and us will never be lost on me.” 
“It’s truly been fun to watch Serena not only change the sport of tennis, but more importantly, how she’s helped empower the next generation,” wrote Michael Phelps, the legendary swimmer who captured a record 28 Olympic medals. “Her tennis accomplishments speak for themselves, but one of the things I admire about her is she simply doesn’t quit. On or off the court her will, her strength, her determination … she simply never gives up. She’s a great example to us all. Congrats and thank you, Serena!!” 
NBA superstar LeBron James thanked Williams for “being this inspiration for so many” in a video message. 
Other reaction from the sports world: 
“Congrats on an amazing career, @SerenaWilliams!” former first lady Michelle Obama wrote. “How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. I’m proud of you, my friend — and I can’t wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents.” 
Alexis Ohanian, who has been a public and vocal supporter of his wife, cheering her from the player’s box, probably said it best: “All heart. So much love.”

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