NEW YORK — A tennis goddess exited the U.S. Open with a glorious goodbye — and the world took note.
Tributes to Serena Williams started pouring in shortly after the 23-time Grand Slam champion lost to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic in a tense, thrilling match at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Queens Friday night.
Celebrities, fellow athletes, and fans from all over the world expressed their thanks to the 40-year-old for her nearly three decades of victories, titles and inspirational comebacks, honoring her legacy both on and off the court and celebrating what’s to come.
“How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time,” former First Lady Michelle Obama tweeted.
“I’m proud of you, my friend — and I can’t wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents,” she added.
Fellow tennis superstar Billie Jean King congratulated Williams on her “incredible” and historic career, noting that her “greatest contributions may be yet to come.”
“She’s an inspiration for a lot of people around the world. She gave a lot to tennis so we are lucky to have had such a great ambassador like Serena for such a long time,” she added.
Greats from other sports also shared some words of gratitude to Williams.
“You’re so damn DOPE!!” wrote basketball great LeBron James.
“You’re literally the greatest on and off the court,” added one of the greatest golfers of all time — and Williams’ friend — Tiger Woods. “Thank you for inspiring all of us to pursue our dreams. I love you little sis!!!!!!”
NBA superstar Earvin Magic Johnson gushed: “We just witnessed the last US Open for the greatest of all time, Serena Williams!! Serena has meant so much to sports, the game of tennis, the world, every little girl, and even more to every little Black girl across the globe.”
Multi-Grammy winner John Legend also paid tribute to “GOAT (greatest of all time) @serenawilliams,” adding, “What a riveting final bow. Such a gift to watch her incredible career.”
Samuel L. Jackson tweeted, “You’re going out scrapping, just like you came in.”
Wimbledon’s official Twitter account called Williams “a player like no other, a career like no other, a story like no other.”
“Thank you, Serena,” the prestigious tennis tournament wrote, adding a crown emoji.
The French Open, also known as Roland-Garros, echoed that sentiment: “Merci, @serenawilliams. There will never be another queen.”
The U.S. Open shared a touching video montage with some of Williams’ most memorable moments in the sport, starting with her as a 16-year-old soon-to-be-superstar at the 1998 Australian Open, when she won the first Grand Slam match of her career.