Bengaluru, September 3: An emotional Serena Williams kept the tennis world guessing in her on-court interview following her loss to Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic in the third roud of the US Open 2022 at the Flushing Meadows in New York.
While thanking her family for their decades of support, the 40-year-old left the door open when it came to the talk of retirement at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Serena ended up going down in a match that lasted three hours and seven minutes, with a 15-minute final game where the 40-year-old saved five match points illustrating her fighting spirit down to the last moments.
If this is her final US Open - which she was hesitant to confirm - she will finish with the most main draw wins ever at the tournament with 108, and her 23 Grand Slam titles are also the most of all-time.
Speaking on the court after Tomljanovic gladly ceded the floor to the legend, Serena turned her attention immediately to her family as she reflected on the journey to this point.
"Thank you, Daddy. I know you're watching," she said as she began to tear up.
"Thanks, Mom... I thank everyone that's here, that's been on my side so many years, decades. Oh, my gosh, literally decades.
"But it all started with my parents - they deserve everything. So I'm really grateful for them. These are happy tears, I guess. I don't know.
"And I wouldn't be Serena if there wasn't Venus, so thank you, Venus. She's the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed."
She added: "It's been a fun ride. It's been the most incredible ride and journey I've ever been on, I mean, in my life.
"I'm just so grateful to every single person that's ever said 'go, Serena' in their life. I'm just so grateful."
When asked if this would definitely be her last US Open, Serena was hesitant due to how well she performed, and left the question unanswered.
"I mean, I'm literally playing my way into this and getting better - I should have started sooner this year," she said with a laugh.
"I don't think so, but you never know. I don't know."
It may be recalled that on August 9, Serena had announced to the world that she was getting ready to step away from her playing career, leaving unclear exactly when the end would be, although she hinted it could come at the US Open 2022.
Serena took the insinuation that she is not finished playing a step further during her sit-down post-match press conference, laying the breadcrumbs for another go around at the Australian Open.
"I don't know (what it would take to play again)- I'm not thinking about that. I always did love Australia, though," she said with a smile.
"But yeah, you know what, I've come a long way since last year at Wimbledon. Just not sure if that was my last moment or not. Making it a different moment I think is much better.
"And it takes a lot of work to get here. Clearly I'm still capable. It takes a lot more than that.
"I'm ready to, like, be a mom, explore a different version of Serena. Technically in the world I'm still super young, so I want to have a little bit of a life while I'm still walking."