At the age of 16, Serena Williams had a fairly confident grip on how the world saw her, and her older sister Venus.

"A lot of people think that black people can't rally, just think they're athletes and they can't think," Williams said at the 1998 Lipton Championships. "As you can see, that's not true. I can rally, Venus can rally."

And my word, how they could rally. As teenagers, then into their roaring twenties, onward into their thrilling thirties and even after turning 40.

Serena turns 41 next month and will retire after the US Open. She has been a title winner on tour in the 1990s, 2000s, 2010s and 2020s, a beacon to black youngsters with a dream everywhere.

It was a March day in Key Biscayne, Florida, when the teenage Serena floated her belief that racism was already circling the siblings.

She had just lost a deciding-set tie-break to WTA number one Martina Hingis in the quarter-finals of the Florida tournament, missing out on two match points. It was one of those occasions where Williams conceded she "could have rallied a little better".

The 40th-ranked youngster said she would "go home and work on that", and brushed off the missed match points by pointing out Pete Sampras had lost to Wayne Ferreira from the same position.

"Maybe I'm just like Pete. Maybe one day I'll be number one, too," Williams said, presciently.

Eighteen months later, she was the US Open champion, beating Hingis in the title match at Flushing Meadows. Bill Clinton, President of the United States, called after the match ended to offer his congratulations.

In that instant, the 17-year-old Serena said it felt "really amazing", but a day later her mood had darkened. Tennis life and fame was already proving wearing. Dad Richard had groomed the sisters for this life, but Serena, who had to give up her skateboarding hobby because of a wrist injury, realised she had left normal life behind.

"I mean, it's actually impossible for me to go out now," she said. "I can't go anywhere. From the beginning of the tournament, I just can't walk down the street.

"It's the same [at home]. You're driving, people honk their horns. It's actually kind of annoying."

Serena and Venus put up with garbage for many years. Whether it was horns honking, or critics honking, they were frequently served a raw deal.

At Wimbledon in 2000, it was tossed to Serena that "critics" were suggesting she and her sister might not be "as strategically aware as some of the other players", but that they were "incredible athletes with great bodies".

"We definitely have great bodies, yeah. Nice, slim, sexy shapes. They're right," Serena replied, unimpressed.

Later that year, after her US Open defence ended with a quarter-final loss to Lindsay Davenport, Williams discussed opposition to the prospect of sisterly dominance.

"I'm sure a lot of people never want to see an all-Williams final," said Serena. "It's going to happen in the future inevitably. Nobody's going to be able to stop it. Obviously, no one would want to see an all-Williams final because everyone doesn't really like us. That's just the way it is."

Those are depressing words to revisit, and they came as Davenport claimed Hingis had been urging her to beat Serena. Venus went on to beat Davenport in the final.

Yet, as Serena forecast, nobody could stop the sisters' march. Serena and Venus first matched up in a slam final in New York at the 2001 US Open, and Venus got the better of Serena.

They clashed again in five of six slam singles finals from the 2002 French Open through to Wimbledon in 2003, and Serena won every time. Across the next five years, she won a modest – by her astonishing standards – three further slams, but Williams was back at the height of her powers when she won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2009 and 2010.

A near-disastrous accident said to have happened in a Munich restaurant, with Williams standing on some glass, followed just days after Wimbledon, and she did not play another slam until returning to London the following year.

It was there that Williams was handed a Court Two assignment for her second-round clash with a fledgling Simona Halep. I remember being on court that day, puzzled why this sporting colossus was sent out to a court that is seriously modest when matched up to Centre Court and Court One.

"They like to put us on Court Two, me and Venus, for whatever reason," Williams said afterwards. "I haven't figured it out yet. Maybe one day we'll figure it out."

It was put to Serena that the sisters might take it as an insult, given Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal tended not to be sent out to Court Two, an awkward spot in the grounds for superstars to reach without causing a fuss.

"Yeah, they're never moved across," said Serena. "I don't make it a big issue. I think at some point maybe I should."

She streaked together three US Open titles from 2012 to 2014, and further Wimbledon triumphs in 2012, 2015 and 2016. It seemed a matter of time before Williams went past Margaret Court's record 24 singles slams, removing any question mark over who is the greatest women's player of all time.

Slam number 23 arrived in Australia while Williams was in the early stage of pregnancy in 2017, and the birth of daughter Olympia was followed by another harrowing health scare.

Williams still reached four more slam finals, going all the way to the title matches at Wimbledon and the US Open in 2018 and 2019, but she could not land the elusive 24th. In fact, she did not win a set in any of those finals.

Defeat to Bianca Andreescu in the 2019 Flushing Meadows title match was hard to take, Williams acknowledged afterwards.

"I honestly don't think Serena showed up," said Williams. "I have to kind of figure out how to get her to show up in grand slam finals."

That was to be her last slam final, barring something most unexpected happening over the coming fortnight.

Serena saw room for improvement, but she 'showed up' more than often enough on the big stage.

She fought racists, sexists, ignoramuses and charlatans to get a foothold on tour, then made a mockery of the "black people can't rally" jibe.

Her 23 singles slams ranks as a record for the sport's Open Era. She has 365 grand slam match wins in singles, 59 more than second-placed Martina Navratilova.

It's one for every day of the year so far, but this great American will want more before that final farewell.

She announced her retirement in Vogue, a power move, just like having the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z and Meghan Markle in her corner always was.

The pursuit of Court is up; just about, anyway. It probably helps that the likes of Billie Jean King and John McEnroe hold up Williams as the greatest of all time.

After her magazine piece, Williams spoke in Toronto about seeing "a light at the end of the tunnel".

"I can't wait to get to that light," Williams said, being serious but laughing hard.

What does it represent?

"Freedom," said Williams.

Serena Williams has made a wise move by asking Rennae Stubbs to help her prepare for a farewell US Open appearance, Chris Evert said on Friday.

Ahead of her 21st singles appearance at Flushing Meadows, Williams has brought in former doubles world number one Stubbs, and has been working closely on court with the Australian.

Stubbs has experience of coaching the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Eugenie Bouchard and Samantha Stosur, and the 51-year-old won six grand slam doubles titles, so knows all about performing on the big stage.

Her fresh input could prove invaluable, Evert believes, with Williams no longer having her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou in her corner. He now coaches Simona Halep.

Ahead of Williams' last event before retirement, Evert told ESPN: "I know she's been practising hard for this tournament.

"She has Rennae Stubbs helping her which is a positive thing. Rennae encouraged her to play matches against other women to get a taste of how other women play, because before she was just playing with her coach and not really moving a lot in practice, just hitting a lot of balls that were coming right to her.

"What I think she needs to work on more is playing the other women, knowing their game, moving corner to corner and getting that moving going. That's the only thing that's really preventing her from getting that A or B game at this point."

Williams begins her campaign on Monday against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, the world number 80 who beat reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu at this year's Australian Open.

Evert is the only woman in the Open Era (since 1968) to have reached more grand slam singles finals than Williams, one ahead of her fellow American after embarking on 34 runs to title matches.

However, Evert lost 16 of her finals, whereas Williams has been beaten only 10 times in 33 such matches.

The 40-year-old Williams therefore has 23 grand slam singles titles, putting her one short of the all-time record held by Margaret Court, but top of the Open Era list.

Evert does not believe Williams will be turning up purely to say goodbye.

"This is a big tournament for Serena Williams and this is an opportunity for people to really get one last look at her, and that's why everyone's trying to buy a ticket for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday night," Evert said.

"She's transcended tennis, she's revolutionised tennis with her power game. But also off the court, her fearlessness and ability to just say whatever she wanted to say, not caring what people thought, her honesty, where she came from and how she's dealt with that.

"I feel she has so many different platforms where she's helped women: women who work who have children, women of colour. I can't say enough about the influence she's had on people."

It remains to be seen whether Venus Williams will follow Serena into retirement after the upcoming slam in New York, but few would be surprised.

At the age of 42, seven-time grand slam singles winner Venus would also deserve a rapturous send-off.

"Venus gets overshadowed by little sis," said Evert. "But Venus on her own has established, accomplished so much, won so many grand slams, singles and doubles, and handled this whole sister thing with grace."

Serena Williams will face Danka Kovinic in the first round as the American great begins her final US Open campaign.

It will be a final grand slam for 40-year-old Williams, who has won six singles titles in New York and been a runner-up on four occasions.

Her first singles crown in a major came as a 17-year-old at Flushing Meadows, when she beat Martina Hingis in the 1999 final.

Now the end of a glorious career is beckoning for the 23-time singles major winner, who has also landed 16 doubles grand slam titles.

Kovinic is the world number 80 from Montenegro, with the 27-year-old having only won two matches at the US Open in four previous main-draw appearances.

The winner of that match will likely face Estonian second seed Anett Kontaveit in round two. Kontaveit's first-round opponent will be Romanian Jaqueline Adina Cristian.

Defending champion Emma Raducanu, who was a shock winner last year, faces a tricky first-round assignment against France's Alize Cornet.

Cornet is the tour veteran who beat Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon, ending the Pole's 37-match winning streak, and this will be her 64th consecutive grand slam appearance, a record for WTA Tour players.

World number one Swiatek starts against Italian Jasmine Paolini and could face 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in round two.

Former champion Naomi Osaka, unseeded this year, was paired with Danielle Collins, the 19th seed who was an Australian Open runner-up at the start of the year.

The tournament gets under way on Monday.

Men's defending champion Daniil Medvedev faces American Stefan Kozlov in his opener, while Rafael Nadal, who has not lost a grand slam match all year, faces Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata.

Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open titles before pulling out of Wimbledon ahead of his semi-final against Australian Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal tear.

That handed Kyrgios a bye through to face Novak Djokovic, who got the better of the Australian, but the Serbian must miss the US Open because his refusal to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus meant he would not be allowed to enter the United States.

Djokovic's absence was confirmed shortly before the draw was revealed.

Fast-rising Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz begins against Argentina's Sebastian Baez, while fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will face a yet-to-be-determined qualifier.

Retiring legend Serena Williams has indicated she "will always have some sort of involvement" in tennis as she prepares for the US Open, in what will be the final Grand Slam of her career.

The 40-year-old has won 23 major singles titles, while also adding 14 doubles championships in a brilliant career, but will be hanging up her racquet after she plays in the tournament she has won six times.

Her first time lifting the US Open trophy came in 1999, but even after spending over two decades at the top level of the sport, Williams says she will continue to be active in tennis.

"I will never retire from something I absolutely love," the American told Meghan Markle on the Duchess' new Spotify podcast.

"I will always have some sort of involvement in it. Maybe not professionally, but I will always want to be involved in some form in tennis. Obviously, I’ve retired professionally, but it’s also an evolution."

Williams also outlined her plans for the future, adding: "I really want to expand my family, and you know I’ve been putting it off for so long.

"As a woman, there’s only so long you can put that off and other people out there, other men out there, can continue to play. My best is being a mom; I think I can do really good at that."

Fellow tennis legend John McEnroe has heaped praise on Williams ahead of the tournament at Flushing Meadows, commenting: "The way that she moves the needle when she plays, it's like Tiger Woods and golf.

"You can look at the accomplishments, she has the Grand Slam victories. Off the court, I know that she's had a lot of difficulties in her life that she talks about in her own documentaries, but she has come out the other end as this icon, global superstar.

"Her story alone, what she represents as someone who's an African-American girl who came from a tough situation, and became the greatest player that ever lived. What that represents for us, and maybe around the world, is an opportunity that it can happen to anyone potentially."

Retiring legend Serena Williams has indicated she "will always have some sort of involvement" in tennis as she prepares for the US Open, in what will be the final Grand Slam of her career.

The 40-year-old has won 23 major singles titles, while also adding 14 doubles championships in a brilliant career, but will be hanging up her racquet after she plays in the tournament she has won six times.

Her first time lifting the US Open trophy came in 1999, but even after spending over two decades at the top level of the sport, Williams says she will continue to be active in tennis.

"I will never retire from something I absolutely love," the American told Meghan Markle on the Duchess' new Spotify podcast.

"I will always have some sort of involvement in it. Maybe not professionally, but I will always want to be involved in some form in tennis. Obviously, I’ve retired professionally, but it’s also an evolution."

Williams also outlined her plans for the future, adding: "I really want to expand my family, and you know I’ve been putting it off for so long.

"As a woman, there’s only so long you can put that off and other people out there, other men out there, can continue to play. My best is being a mom; I think I can do really good at that."

Fellow tennis legend John McEnroe has heaped praise on Williams ahead of the tournament at Flushing Meadows, commenting: "The way that she moves the needle when she plays, it's like Tiger Woods and golf.

"You can look at the accomplishments, she has the Grand Slam victories. Off the court, I know that she's had a lot of difficulties in her life that she talks about in her own documentaries, but she has come out the other end as this icon, global superstar.

"Her story alone, what she represents as someone who's an African-American girl who came from a tough situation, and became the greatest player that ever lived. What that represents for us, and maybe around the world, is an opportunity that it can happen to anyone potentially."

Serena Williams is "one of the greatest of all time", says fellow tennis legend Rafael Nadal as the 23-time grand slam winner prepares to hang up her racquet.

The 40-year-old, one of the most decorated players in the history of the sport, signalled her intent to "evolve away" from the game in an interview with Vogue Magazine earlier this month, hinting at her retirement following the U.S. Open in September.

With just shy of two-dozen grand slam singles titles, Williams trails only Margaret Court for the all-time record of 24 crowns, and could equal her in her farewell appearance.

Nadal, meanwhile, lies one behind her after victory in the Australian Open and French Open this year took him clear of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to 22, though the former's win at Wimbledon has seen him close the gap again.

The duo are set to feature at this week's Western and Southern Open, where Williams will face incumbent U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu, and the Spaniard - who will mark his return from injury - has nothing but praise for his fellow giant of the game.

"She is one of the greatest sports [people] of all time," he stated. "I feel lucky to share a tour for a long period of time with her.

"Of course, from a selfish point of view, it's sad that she's leaving the tour but, on the other hand, we can't thank her enough for all the things that she did for our sport.

"I think she's an amazing inspiration for a lot of people around the world and I think she deserves to choose whatever works for her better at this stage of her life.

"So I wish her all the best. Hopefully, we can keep seeing her around the tour because I always believe that our sport, or the sport in general, is bigger and better when legends are around and she is a legend.

"Hopefully, we can enjoy her in a different way around the tour."

Nadal was forced to withdraw ahead of the Wimbledon semi-finals earlier this year with an abdominal tear, and now faces a potentially nervy run through to the U.S. Open in terms of fitness.

But the 36-year-old is cautiously optimistic, adding: "I hope to be ready. That's what I'm trying to do. Try to be a little more conservative, but I hope I can be ready to play.

"Of course, I need some more days to analyse how things are going in terms of abdominal feeling.

"But things are going well for the moment, so hopefully I can manage to be ready. I'm excited. I want to play tennis again on the tour. I'm having a good season, I'm enjoying it, so I want to enjoy this week in Cincinnati."

Serena Williams has been drawn to face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in a blockbuster first-round match-up at next week's Cincinnati Masters.

Williams, who earlier this week declared her intention to retire after the upcoming US Open, will open her tournament on Monday evening against the 19-year-old Briton who is currently ranked 10th in the world.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion recorded her first singles win in more than a year at this week's Canadian Open, defeating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz on Monday, before losing in the second round to Belinda Bencic.

In between the matches, Williams had signaled her retirement plans in an article in Vogue magazine.

The first-round clash is one of several intriguing matches including 14th seed Karolina Pliskova meeting Venus Williams, two-time major winner Victoria Azarenka facing Estonian veteran Kaia Kanepi.

In-form Simona Halep is drawn against 2021 Australian Open semi-finalist Karolina Muchova, while four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka will face Zhang Shuai.

In the men's singles draw, 12th seed Matteo Berrettini will face Frances Tiafoe straight up, while Nick Kyrgios is scheduled to take on Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Laura Robson has hailed Serena Williams as the "greatest of all time" following the announcement of her retirement.

The 23-time grand slam winner confirmed on Tuesday she would be retiring from the court ahead of the US Open, which is now widely expected to be her final appearance at a major tournament.

Williams, who also boasts 14 doubles victories in grand slam events alongside her sister Venus, bid an emotional farewell to Toronto after her second-round defeat at the Canada Open on Wednesday.

The countdown is now on for the US Open, with fans holding the knowledge that every round could be her final farewell, and Robson believes the retirement decision will not have surprised many.

"It's difficult, because you know that it's coming. And I think everyone has been waiting for this announcement over the last few years," she told Stats Perform.

"But it's still very sad that it's finally here. You know, she has been such a great champion for decades now. 

"And I looked up to her growing up, I've got so many memories, watching Serena on TV, I've got my own memories from playing her as well, which is cool. 

"I'm just looking forward to being at the US Open, to seeing the atmosphere of her last few matches. And hopefully she goes on a bit of a run, that would just be electric."

Robson believes Williams is comfortably the greatest of all time in the women's game and added there is a strong argument she is the greatest overall in the sport.

"I think on the women's side, there's no doubt for me that Serena is the greatest of all time. You know, to win as many matches and titles and slams and Olympic medals as she has over the last couple of decades," she stated.

"Doing it all while having a child, going through life-threatening illnesses that she had after giving birth. So many injuries as well. So for me, yeah, on the women's side, definitely greatest of all time.

"There's an argument to be made for greatest in tennis in general, but everyone's got their own opinions on that. And yeah, that's an entirely different debate, because it's really, who you're a fan of the most that that comes down to."

Robson, who announced her own retirement in May, also identified with the tough decision Williams has had to make but feels she has played for "as long as possible".

"It sounds like from the Vogue article that she really doesn't want to retire, she's still struggling to come to terms with it," she added.

"But for me, I found as soon as I said it out loud and said it to the world it does make it a lot easier to wrap your head around. 

"So, for Serena you know, she's devastated to be stopping I'm sure she would love to keep playing by the sounds of it. She played it as long as possible until her body gave out but she's got other priorities in her life now. 

"It's about finding that balance, but it definitely sounds like she's devastated to step away from tennis."

Play Your Way to Wimbledon, Powered by Vodafone is the largest individual mass participation tennis competition in the UK - delivered by Vodafone in partnership with the LTA and The All England Lawn Tennis Club.

Serena Williams' decision to begin winding down her tennis career has saddened world number one Iga Swiatek and Belinda Bencic, who defeated the 40-year-old on Wednesday.

Williams announced on Tuesday that she is about to retire, saying "the countdown has begun" as she looks to "move in a different direction".

While the 23-time singles grand slam champion did not put a specific timeline on her remaining days in tennis, her comment about looking for new challenges after "these next few weeks" suggests the US Open – which she has already been included on the entry list for and starts at the end of August – will be her swansong.

That announcement came on the back of Williams' first singles win in 430 days, a defeat of Nuria Parrizas-Diaz at the Canadian Open in Toronto, but she was subsequently eliminated by Bencic on Wednesday, when the reality of her farewell tour set in.

Williams failed to hold back the tears as she said goodbye to the Toronto crowd for the last time as a player, and Bencic herself could not help feeling a little overcome

She said: "It was definitely very special. I think it was more than just the usual tennis match, also just really exciting, and also a little bit overwhelming for me, of course.

"[It's] great, I can be part of her career and her story and this was just really nice and I'm just really appreciative and honoured to play her so many times, and also here in Toronto.

 

"I mean, she's really the greatest of all time, so it's really exciting. I could have been on the court against her so many times and even today I really enjoyed it a lot. It was sometimes like a pinch me moment again."

Williams finished five different calendar years as the highest-ranked player in the world, a record only Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova can better.

Swiatek, the current world number one, looks to be the best-placed of the next generation to challenge that achievement, though she recognises a degree of fortune in not having to face Williams at the peak of her powers.

"Well it's always pretty sad when you see such a career coming to an end, but on the other hand she's a legend and I feel like she's done so much," Swiatek added.

"It's really amazing. I'm pretty sad that I wasn't able to play against her and experience that her being the strongest one on tour, but on the other hand, I would be losing against her if I played [her at] that time, so that's fine!

"But she's a legend and everything that she has done on court and off court, she's basically a superstar and the way she handled playing tennis and business and also being a mother, it's mind-blowing. So I'm pretty sure that she's going to have a great second part of her career."

The Serena Williams' farewell tour in Toronto is over after she was knocked out of the Canadian Open 6-2 6-4 by 12th seed Belinda Bencic on Wednesday.

Williams, playing for the first time since declaring on Tuesday her intention to retire after this month's US Open, was no match for Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Bencic.

The 23-time major winner was unable to claim back-to-back WTA singles wins for the first time since last year's French Open, having defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz for her first victory in 430 days on Monday.

Bencic triumphed in one hour and 17 minutes, winning 84.2 per cent of first-serve points and converted five of eight break points throughout the match.

Williams' power was on show with 13 winners, but Bencic was physically more capable and decisively managed 25 winners with only 13 unforced errors.

Elsewhere, 2019 US Open winner and local hope Bianca Andreescu edged Alize Cornet in a see-sawing clash in the evening, winning 6-3 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes.

Fourth seed Paula Badosa and fifth seed Ons Jabeur, who was last month's Wimbledon runner-up, were forced to retire due to injury.

Spanish 24-year-old Badosa withdrew against Yulia Putintseva 7-5 1-0 due to muscle cramping, while Zheng Qinwen had a walkover against Jabeur 6-1 2-1 due to abdominal pain.

Top seed Iga Swiatek brushed aside Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-2 in 64 minutes. The win means Swiatek is the first player to win 15 WTA 1000 matches in straight sets in a row since 2009.

Canadian 13th seed Leylah Fernandez also bowed out, going down 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, who will face Swiatek in the third round.

Second seed Anett Kontaveit lost 6-4 6-4 to Jil Teichmann in one hour and 27 minutes. Teichmann will next face Simona Halep who won in 71 minutes against Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-2.

Sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka got past Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4 6-3 to set up a third-round meeting with Coco Gauff after she defeated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-3) in an epic that lasted two hours and 49 minutes.

Jessica Pegula won 6-2 7-5 over American qualifier Asia Muhammad to progress through to face Camila Giorgi after she knocked off Elise Mertens 7-3 7-5.

Third seed Maria Sakkari triumphed in three sets 6-2 4-6 6-2 over Sloane Stephens and will face Karolina Pliskova next after the Czech beat Amanda Anisimova 6-1 6-1.

Eighth seed Garbine Muguruza won 6-4 6-4 against Kaia Kanepi and Alison Riske toppled 16th seed Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 7-5.

The day after declaring her impending retirement, Serena Williams was full of emotion and admitted it had been a "pretty interesting 24 hours" for her.

Williams revealed on Tuesday in an article in Vogue that "the countdown has begun" for her retirement with this month's US Open set to be the 23-time major winner's last tournament.

The 40-year-old was knocked out of the Canadian Open on Wednesday by Belinda Bencic 6-2 6-4 and spoke after the match for the first time publicly since declaring her intention to retire.

"It was a lot of emotions obviously," Williams said during the on-court post-match interview.

"I've loved playing here [Toronto], I've always loved playing here. I wish I could have played better but Belinda played so well today.

"It's been a pretty interesting 24 hours."

Williams, who won the first of her 23 Grand Slam titles way back in 1999 at the US Open, was emotional about the reception from fans to her announcement.

"It's just been so memorable," Williams said.

"Like I said in my article, I'm terrible at goodbyes. But goodbye, Toronto."

Williams has already been named on the entry list for the US Open, which starts at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.

The former world number one had claimed her first WTA singles win in 430 days on Monday when she defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in preparation for her US Open farewell.

Coco Gauff described Serena Williams as "the reason why I play tennis" as she paid tribute to the soon-to-retire great, declaring: "There will never be another Serena."

Williams, a 23-time grand slam champion, announced in a piece in Vogue on Tuesday that she would soon retire.

The 40-year-old did not provide a firm date for the end of her career, but hinted that she could bow out after the US Open, which begins at the end of August.

Williams had won her first singles match in over a year on Monday at the Canadian Open, yet she wrote of the need to now prioritise her family.

And Gauff, playing at the same event in Toronto, was not short of praise for a legend of the sport.

"She's just been playing forever, my whole life," Gauff said after beating Madison Brengle.

"The legacy that she's left throughout her tennis career is something that I don't think any other player can probably touch.

"I think that the legacy that she'll continue to leave throughout her life is something that can inspire many more generations."

Gauff, a highly talented 18-year-old, has no interest in any tag as the 'next Serena', although she can take inspiration from Williams in dealing with such pressure.

"I've learned a lot from them [Serena and sister Venus]," Gauff said.

"People always tell me that you're going to be 'next whatever', blah, blah, blah, and Serena has been considered the GOAT [greatest of all time] for at least the second half of her career, and she never succumbed to that pressure.

"I think she overcame it, and I think that's something I take from her and try to learn from it. Not that I'm at her level and experiencing the same pressure she is, but in the moment I try to emulate that.

"For me, I grew up watching her. That's the reason why I play tennis, and tennis being a predominantly white sport, it definitely helped a lot, because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game, and it made me believe I could dominate, too.

"She's the GOAT. And undisputed, too, in my opinion. But I don't think that's an opinion, it's a fact.

"Serena, for me, is the GOAT. The GOAT of all GOATs. There will never be another Serena."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.