Tennis legend Serena Williams left doubts about potential retirement plans after her latest bid for a record 24th grand slam title was halted by Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semifinals.
Williams, 39, paused briefly and placed her hand over heart while acknowledging the crowd during her exit from the court, after her defeat at the hands of the 23-year-old Osaka in straight sets.
Asked during a post-match press conference whether the gesture represented a farewell to the Australian Open, which she has won seven times in her decorated career, Williams had a cryptic reply.
“If I ever say farewell,” she said, “I wouldn’t tell anyone.”
Moments later, Williams was asked about her sloppy play, marked by 24 unforced errors.
"I'm done," she said, and abruptly exited the conference.
In falling short of her 24th career grand slam singles title, Williams remains tied with Aussie Margaret Court. Williams' last grand slam title came at the 2017 Australian Open.
Osaka, who also knocked off Serena in the 2018 US Open finals, was gracious after beating one of her childhood heroines.
“I don’t know if there’s any little kids out here today, but I was a little kid watching her play,” Osaka said about Williams, “and just to be on the court playing against her, for me, is a dream.”
Osaka, now vying for her fourth career singles title, will face American Jennifer Brady, who won an epic 18-point final game in the third set of her semifinals match to clinch her first career finals appearance. Osaka dispatched Brady in the semifinals at last year's US Open.