Obama pays tribute to Serena after her US Open farewell
Former US President Barack Obama and tennis great Billie Jean King paid tribute to Serena Williams after her US Open third round loss to Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday, likely the last match of her glittering career.
The defeat of the 23-time Grand Slam champion by 7-5, 6-7(4) and 6-1 caused an avalanche of messages on social networks, in which current and former athletes, as well as the world in general, celebrated their achievements over the past 25 years.
“Congratulations, Serena, on your heart, talent, intelligence, dedication and grace,” Obama wrote on Twitter Saturday. “Few athletes have inspired more people inside and outside of their sport!”
Former First Lady Michelle Obama, who appeared with Williams at her “Let’s Move!” to promote physical activity for children at the White House, he sent his “congratulations on an incredible career”.
“How lucky we were to see a young woman from Compton become one of the greatest athletes of all time,” she wrote on Twitter.
“I’m proud of you, my friend, and I can’t wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talent.”
Former world number one King, who watched from the stands on Friday, later tweeted that Williams would remain in the limelight.
“Her incredible career has made tennis history. And yet her greatest contributions may yet be to come. Thank you, @serenawilliams. Your journey continues,” King said.
American gymnast Simone Biles, a mental health champion athlete widely considered the best of all time in her own sport, paid tribute to her ‘GOAT’ partner and thanked her for being “an inspiration “.
“Thank you @serenawilliams for transcending sport for black athletes, female athletes and all athletes,” she wrote on Twitter. “Such a pleasure to watch,” he said.
Swimming great Michael Phelps has praised Williams for not only changing tennis, but empowering the next generation.
“Her tennis achievements speak for themselves, but one of the things I admire about her is that she just doesn’t give up,” said the Olympic champion.
“On and off the track, his will, his strength, his determination…he never gives up. He’s a great example for all of us.”
On Wednesday, Williams credited Tiger Woods as one of the main reasons he continued to play tennis. The great golfer, who saw her beat world number two Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday, showered her with praise.
“@serenawilliams you are literally the best on and off the court. Thank you for inspiring us all to pursue our dreams. Love you sis,” Woods tweeted.
World number 12 Coco Gauff of the United States said Williams was the reason she kept dreaming.
“The impact you have had on me is beyond any words that can be put together and for that I say thank you thank you thank you GOAT,” the 18-year-old said, using the abbreviation for “greatest of all the temperature”.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Amy Tennery in New York; Editing in Spanish by Juana Casas).
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