Tearful Serena Wiiliams cuts short news conference after defeat to Naomi Osaka in Australian Open
Serena Williams broke down in tears before cutting short her post-match news conference after losing 6-3 6-4 to Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semi-finals on Thursday.
The defeat ended Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.
"It was a big error day for me today," the 39-year-old told reporters after the match at Rod Laver Arena.
Asked if it was just a bad day at the office, Williams said: "I don't know. I'm done," before leaving the room in tears.
Osaka, the 2019 champion, will meet the winner of Jennifer Brady and Karolina Muchova for the title as the 23-year-old bids to claim her fourth Grand Slam crown.
"It's just always an honour to play her and I just didn't want to go out really dud. I just wanted to try my best," Osaka said after her 75-minute masterclass on a steamy afternoon.
"I was a little kid watching her play and just to be on the court playing against her is a dream.
"You're competitive, you are playing against another competitor, that itself is the funnest part because tennis is a game."
HAND ON HEART
Williams' record bid ended with another near-miss, having also reached the finals of four other Grand Slams since her last major crown at the Australian Open in 2017.
She paused while walking off as the centre court crowd gave her a standing ovation. She put her hand on her heart, smiled and waved.
Williams was asked whether the gesture was meant as a final farewell to Melbourne Park, where she holds a record seven titles in the professional era.
"I don't know, if I ever say farewell I wouldn't tell anyone, so...." she responded.
Williams and Osaka's last Grand Slam clash was full of drama at Flushing Meadows in the 2018 final, with the American losing her temper at the chair umpire and fans jeering during the trophy ceremony.
Thursday's semi-final was uneventful by comparison, though Osaka put on a tremendous show.
While Williams broke in the opening game and took a 2-0 lead, the Japanese third seed shrugged it off and won five straight games in a devastating display before closing out the set with a blazing forehand winner.
Williams began yelling at herself between points, trying to fire herself up, but Osaka was all business as she broke the American in the first game of the second set.
Osaka would not let up until she wobbled with three double-faults to allow the American to break back to 4-4.
But Williams repaid the favour with a double-fault on the next service game giving Osaka three break points.
Osaka converted the first of them when she swooped in with a sumptuous angled backhand winner.
She then served out the match to love in a flawless finish, with an overwhelmed Williams thudding a backhand into the net.
Williams had come to Melbourne Park seeking a 24th Grand Slam title but it was her 24th unforced error that ended her campaign.This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.