Serena Williams: Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Tiger Woods lead career tributes after US Open exit | Tennis News

Michelle Obama praised Serena Williams as “one of the greatest athletes of all time” as the tennis superstar played what was likely her last professional match.

The former first lady paid tribute to her friend and her “incredible career”, saying she would continue to “transform lives” with her talents.

Famous faces like Oprah Winfrey, Jennifer Hudson and Tiger Woods have also hailed Williams as a “legend forever.”

The multiple Grand Slam winner withdrew from the third round of the US Open tournament on Friday night after losing in three sets to Ajla Tomljanovic.

Serena Williams waves to fans after losing to Ajla Tomljanovic at Flushing Meadows

The tournament is set to be his last, with his previous wins over Danka Kovinic and Anett Kontaveit giving fans hope that his swan song could have a fairy tale ending.

But, despite a memorable second-set fightback in a raucous atmosphere, there will be no record 24th Grand Slam singles title, with Williams succumbing to a 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-1 loss .

“Congratulations on an incredible career, @SerenaWilliams!” Obama tweeted. “How lucky we were to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to be one of the greatest athletes of all time.

“I’m proud of you, my friend – and I can’t wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents.”

American talk show host Winfrey added, “25 years. Champion. Shero. Legend forever!”

Multi-award winning actress Hudson, who recently earned coveted Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (EGOT) status, wrote, “Serena!!! You have inspired us all. Thank you for showing us what the greatness!”

American actress and producer Elizabeth Banks tweeted, “Thank you @serenawilliams for inspiring us for so long. May you feel the love tonight!”

Woods said it was “a privilege to watch greatness” after the game and tweeted: “[email protected] you are literally the best on and off the court. Thank you for inspiring us all to pursue our dreams. I love you little sis!!!!!!!”

A host of other celebrities were pictured at the US Open last week watching Williams perform, including Anna Wintour and Spike Lee.

Ben Stiller and Christine Taylor, Jared Leto, Gigi and Bella Hadid, musician Seal and Zendaya were also spotted at the tournament. The Spider-Man star also lent his voice to a Nike campaign honoring Williams, which was released after the game ended.

“When the world wanted her to be less powerful, she hit even harder,” Zendaya was heard saying, in archive footage from the tennis star’s career. “She refused to hide her flair, or what was on her mind. She couldn’t stop
winner. Again and again.

“She didn’t change who she was, and it changed everything, for all of us.”

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