Serena Williams had an emotional on-court moment after her Australian Open semifinal loss to Naomi Osaka. About 40 minutes later, she was brought to tears off the court.
Williams prematurely ended her post-match press conference after three and a half minutes. The 39-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam singles champion broke into tears after being asked what went wrong in the match.
The penultimate topic may have been more heart-tugging. Williams was told that some wondered if she was almost saying farewell to the Melbourne crowd when she put her hand over her heart and acknowledged them before exiting Rod Laver Arena.
The tournament welcomed back a limited number of fans after a five-day coronavirus lockdown in the area ended Thursday.
The transcript of the end of the press conference:
Q. There was a really poignant moment when you walked off the court. You put your hand over your heart. What was going through your head in that moment?
Williams: I don’t know. The Aussie crowd is so amazing, so it was nice to see.
Q. Some people wondered if you were almost saying farewell.
Williams: I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone (smiling). So…
Q. The unforced errors through the match, considering how well up you played to get to this stage, what do you feel caused that? Was it just one of those bad days at the office?
Williams: I don’t know. I’m done (tearing up, leaves press conference)
Later, Williams posted on Instagram:
Melbourne and my Australian fans- Today was not ideal outcome or performance but it happens… I am so honored to be able to play in front of you all. Your support -your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today. I am forever in debt and grateful to each and everyone single one of you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.
— Tennis Channel (@TennisChannel) February 18, 2021
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