All eyes are on Serena Williams as she begins her final US Open on Monday night against Danka Kovinic. In the leadup to the season’s final Grand Slam, several stars have paid tribute to the legendary WTA star, including Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Andy Murray and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Nadal has spoken about Williams several times in recent weeks and has been clear how important she has been within and beyond the tennis world.
“[She is a] huge ambassador that [broke] records. I think as an athlete… [she] has been one of the most important athletes in the history of the sport,” Nadal said. “So from the tennis perspective, it’s a big loss that she is leaving. But on the other hand, she deserved all the things that she achieved because she worked enough to make that happen for such a long time, with a lot of determination, dedication, discipline. If not, all of this is impossible.”
Nadal added that he has one wish for when Williams’ career is over.
“I just believe and hope that if she is able to stay around the sport in some way, going to be great for our sport because I always believe that the sports are bigger when the legends of our sport are around the sport,” Nadal said. “And she’s a legend. In some way I hope she will continue being involved in the world of tennis.”
Medvedev recalls picking up a racquet aged six. When he started watching the sport on TV months later, Williams was competing. He was already aware she was “the strong woman in the world in tennis right now”.
“Twenty years later I’m here, already managed have some success in my career, and Serena is still playing, playing her last US Open. It’s just legendary,” Medvedev said. “Every time I saw her in person, she just has this legendary energy around her, which I guess is not easy to live with, because that’s why everybody is a fan of her. Maybe aparazzi. You come around here, and you’re like, ‘I’m a fan’, something special. She for sure has and will have an amazing legacy in tennis.
“I’m sure in hundred years we’re still going to talk about Serena Williams.”
Former World No. 1 Murray played mixed doubles with Williams at Wimbledon in 2019. “I was nervous playing with her,” Murray recalled, adding that she made “a few funny comments” that made it a “really nice” experience for him.
“Her achievements in the sport, obviously incredible. She will go down as one of the best tennis players to have ever played, if not ‘the’ best on the women’s side,” Murray said. “I think also what her and Venus have done is, when you combine the two, is even more remarkable, really, and probably unlikely we will see something like that again from two sisters.”
Williams has also received a wild card into the women’s doubles draw alongside sister Venus Williams.
“I think it’s really cool that they are playing doubles together. I think that will be really nice,” Murray said. “She’s obviously had a massive impact on the sport.”
Tsitsipas, like Medvedev, was a kid when Williams was already dominating the sport. The Greek explained that he has been inspired by her.
“What she has been able to do on the tennis court and outside the tennis court has brought the game of tennis so high and has made it so important as a sport,” Tsitsipas said. “So I give a lot of credit to her because she deserves a lot of credit for what she has done in this sport. She’s a phenomenon.”