Serena Williams’ last opponent, Ajla Tomljanovic, is a fan

Ajla Tomljanovic wanted to overcome Serena Williams, of direction. Wanted to capture the hazard for a huge victory, desired to add to her career highlights, desired to attain the fourth round of the U.S. Open for the first time.

Still, it changed into not easy for her to observe as tears rolled down Williams’ cheeks after Tomljanovic gained 7-five, 6-7 (4), 6-1 in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday night time.

“Probably the maximum conflicted I’ve ever felt after a win. During the in shape I turned into so keen to win. I suggest, I desired to win as a great deal as the following man or woman, due to the fact I didn’t study her like, ‘Oh, Serena, her closing event,’” stated Tomljanovic, a 29-12 months-old Australian who is ranked 46th.

“But then, whilst it ended, it nearly didn’t sense right,” Tomljanovic said. “When she started speakme approximately her own family and everything, I got emotional, due to the fact I can relate to having a strong bond together with your circle of relatives. When she stated that she wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for them, I relate to that lots. Just the complete moment after become just hard to address a little bit.”Give credit to Tomljanovic for maintaining her composure for the duration of the match, in no way letting the strokes or air of mystery of Williams get too massive.

Tomljanovic did her satisfactory work on the baseline, putting with Williams on long exchanges there and developing with large groundstrokes towards as massive a hitter as there’s been. And then there was this: Tomljanovic trailed by means of as a minimum one destroy in every set, inclusive of at 5-three inside the first, 4-zero and five-2 within the 2d and 1-0 in the third.She needed six in shape points to close it out, however near it out she did.

“I tried,” Williams stated, “but Ajla just played a little bit higher.”

Williams, as most every person knows, is the proprietor of 23 Grand Slam titles — together with six at the U.S. Open on my own — and that doesn’t even rely women’s doubles or combined doubles.


She began the evening with a losing document in Grand Slam matches, 28-31. She in no way had won a third-spherical in shape at Flushing Meadows until Friday. She has yet to win a lot as one quarterfinal healthy at any predominant event; her big leap forward to that round got here at Wimbledon last year, while she defeated Emma Raducanu to get there (Raducanu would go on to win the U.S. Open months later).Tomljanovic back to the quarterfinals on the All England Club this July, and now has a threat to get that a ways in New York if she can beat thirty fifth-ranked Liudmila Samsonova on Sunday.

Might be tough to overlook about Friday, though, and all that transpired.

Start with the sellout crowd of 23,859, which turned into pretty an awful lot entirely backing Williams, who turns forty one this month and announced ultimate month she become making ready to retire. Tomljanovic tried to block a number of the noise out, even overlaying her head with a towel for the duration of changeovers.

Tomljanovic understood the fervor. Indeed, she apologized to the spectators for her victory — now not some thing you pay attention every day.

But here is why: She considers herself keen on Williams, too, and has fond reminiscences of looking the American play in Slam finals on TV.

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