American Serena Williams, 39, and winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, on Thursday made a tearful exit from Australian Open after losing to 23-year-old Japanese Naomi Osaka 3-6, 4-6 in the women’s singles semi-finals. Serena is still one Grand Slam title away from legendary Australian Margaret Court’s record of singles titles.
The 2021 Australian Open was Serena’s 11th Grand Slam since she returned to tennis after the birth of her first child. She had taken a maternity break after the 2017 Australian Open, which she won after beating sister Venus Williams in the final and made her comeback at the World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi on December 30, 2017.
While she had initially targetted the 2018 Australian Open, she eventually withdrew from the tournament citing a lack of preparation. Her first Grand Slam since pregnancy was the 2018 French Open in which she was knocked out in the fourth round.
Since then, Serena has reached consecutive finals at the Wimbledon and US Open in 2018 and 2019. She has faced nine players in the top 10 of the world rankings in this period, winning four times and losing five, including the two Wimbledon finals.
Outside of Grand Slams, Serena won the Auckland Open in January 2020, which was her first and thus far only title since returning to the WTA tour.