A tearful Serena Williams has admitted to being “terrible at goodbyes” as the National Bank Open triple champion said “goodbye Toronto” to a packed crowd one day after announcing her imminent retirement.
The American lost 6-2 6-4 to Belinda Bencic in the second round in Toronto in her first defeat since saying she has decided to end her career.
“It was a lot of emotions obviously,” Williams told the crowd on Wednesday.
“I love playing here, I’ve always loved playing here. I wish I could have played better but Belinda played so well today. It’s been an interesting 24 hours.
“As I said in the article, I’m terrible at goodbyes. But, goodbye Toronto.”
The 23-time grand-slam champion wrote for Vogue that she was “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me”.
“Anyways, this is what it is,” she told the crowd in Toronto as she wiped away a tear.
“I was really happy to be out here today and play in front of you guys, thanks for the support,” she said, gesturing toward the fans behind her, who roared back.
“Thank you,” she said with a grin as the presentation ended with a gift to her from the Toronto Maple Leafs NHL and the Toronto Raptors NBA franchises.
Three-time champion Williams saved two break points in the opening set before going on to be broken twice in the first set.
The American’s serve was stronger in the second set, before she double-faulted to give Bencic the break at 3-3 and the Swiss pushed ahead for the win.
It was the Olympic champion’s second triumph over Williams at the tournament, following a semi-final victory on the same court when she was a teenager in 2015.
Bencic will play eighth seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain in the third round.
It comes after Williams said in a first-person piece for Vogue that she has decided to end her career.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” she wrote.
She has committed to playing at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati next week as well as the US Open later this month, and it appears that will be her final tournament.