'I'm DONE': Serena leaves presser in tears after Aus Open semi-final defeat, remains adamant it isn't farewell
Serena Williams left the press room in tears following her Australian Open defeat to Naomi Osaka 6-3, 6-4 on Thursday, but the 39-year-old refused to admit she was saying farewell to tennis.
Serena again fell at one of the final hurdles in pursuit of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, this time at Rod Laver Arena to rising superstar Osaka.
"The difference today was errors, I made so many errors today. honesty there were so many opportunities where I could have been up five love and I just made so many errors," Serena admitted in the post-match presser.
The American didn't hit a single forehand winner in the first set of the meeting between the third and tenth seeds, but insisted she felt comfortable with her game throughout the tournament despite the sloppy play.
"I had a lot of unforced errors. It was big error day for me today," she opined. "I felt well. I felt like I was hitting well the whole tournament. Even the first couple of games there was so many opportunities.
"So it was just, I don't know, I just made too many mistakes there and easy mistakes, not like I was on the run or anything, they were just easy easy mistakes."
As a vanquished Serena made her way off court, she clasped her hands over her chest in response to a standing ovation from the Australian crowd, which led some to suspect she was waving farewell.
"The Aussie crowd is so amazing. It was nice to see. If I had to say farewell I wouldn't say anyone," she insisted.
When the two met in the US Open final in 2018, where Osaka again defeated Serena in straight sets, it was the Japanese youngster who had the celebrations of her first ever major win tainted by a Serena rant.
The defeated finalist, who had admonished an umpire as sexist stole the limelight away from Osaka, who broke down. In Melbourne today however, it was Serena's turn for tears.
Asked by a reporter whether it was just a bad day at the office, Serena took a sip of water and and a deep, heavy breath and replied "I don't know" through tears and then "I'm, I'm done", her voice fully cracking, before getting up and abruptly leaving the pressroom.
Osaka's win sets up a final showdown with American number 22 seed Jennifer Brady, who will be playing in her first ever Grand Slam final.