Tennis legend Serena Williams broke down in tears and cut her press conference short after falling at the semi-final stage of the Australian Open on Thursday.
Williams’ bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title was thwarted by Naomi Osaka, with the defeated American soaking up the moment in a farewell to the Rod Laver Arena crowd.
When asked about the “poignant moment”, Williams, who turns 40 this year, was quick to play it down, before the next question — one that seemed innocent enough — saw the star walk out.
Here’s what happened
Q. There was a really poignant moment when you walked off the court. You put your hand over your heart. What was going through your head in that moment?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. The Aussie crowd is so amazing, so it was nice to see.
Q. Some people wondered if you were almost saying farewell.
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone (smiling). So…
Q. The unforced errors through the match, considering how well up you played to get to this stage, what do you feel caused that? Was it just one of those bad days at the office?
SERENA WILLIAMS: I don’t know. I’m done (tearing up).
Williams took to Instagram after her press conference to add: “Melbourne and my Australian fans- Today was not ideal outcome or performance but it happens…
“I am so honoured to be able to play in front of you all. Your support -your cheers, I only wish I could have done better for you today.
“I am forever in debt and grateful to each and every single one of you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I adore you.”