Serena Williams was left in tears after playing her final match at the National Bank Open.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner announced earlier this week that she was “evolving away from tennis”.
She has subsequently began her farewell tour, bidding goodbye to the Canadian Open after her second round defeat against Belinda Bencic.
Williams lost 6-2 6-4 to the Olympic champion and was visibly emotional as she left the court of the WTA 1000 event for the last time.
“It was a lot of emotions obviously,” she said. “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. I was really happy to be out here today and play in front of you guys, thanks for the support.”
Game. Set. Match.— Devin Heroux (@Devin_Heroux) August 11, 2022
Belinda Bencic defeats Serena Williams in straight sets — 6-2, 6-4.
The crowd is standing. And cheering endlessly. For the greatest ever. As Williams says goodbye to Canada.
What a scene here. Williams wiping away tears as she leaves the court. pic.twitter.com/Ekq8cZpODP
Williams was then presented with a gift from Toronto Maple Leafs NHL and the Toronto Raptors NBA franchises.
The 40-year-old will next play at the Western & Southern Open from August 13th to 21st, and could well feature at Tennis in the Land or the National Bank Championships before competing at the US Open.
Williams made it clear just how difficult she would find stepping away from tennis.
all. the. feels. pic.twitter.com/wmYXX0w9kH— wta (@WTA) August 11, 2022
“I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way,” she wrote in Vogue.
“Ashleigh Barty was number one in the world when she left the sport this March, and I believe she really felt ready to move on.
“Caroline Wozniacki, who is one of my best friends, felt a sense of relief when she retired in 2020.
“Praise to these people, but I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain.
“It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not.”
Williams has been a trailblazer in women’s sport, continuously raising the bar for female athletes around the world.
She won more Grand Slam titles than any female player in the Open era, and the second most of all-time, behind Margaret Court’s 24.
Williams returned to tennis at Wimbledon in June after a year out with injury, but crashed out in the first round.