Serena Williams had rolled through the Australian Open up until Wednesday night, even taking down World No. 2 Simona Halep. But in the semifinal round against Naomi Osaka, Williams hit a snag and wound up losing 6-3, 6-4.
After the match, the 39-year-old Williams was clearly emotional. She had missed out on a chance to win her 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie Margaret Court’s all-time record.
Williams hugged Osaka, then waved to the crowd and placed a hand over her heart. Asked what the moment meant to her after the match, Williams said appreciated the Australian Open crowd. When a reporter followed up asking if she was saying farewell.
“I don’t know,” Williams said. “If I had to say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
The next question caused Williams to end the press conference early. A reporter asked the 23-time Grand Slam champion what led to her 24 unforced errors.
“I’m done,” Williams said, standing and leaving while crying.
Osaka’s win gives the 23-year-old star a chance to win her fourth Grand Slam and her second Australian Open. She’ll face No. 22 seed Jennifer Brady on Saturday in the final.
As for Williams, the speculation around her future will go on.