By Melissa Romualdi.

Serena Williams bid a tearful goodbye to Toronto, leaving it all on Sobeys Stadium’s Centre Court after competing in Wednesday night’s Canadian Open.

The 23-time Grand Slam winner took the court for the first time since announcing Tuesday that she’ll be transitioning away from professional tennis following her upcoming U.S. Open.

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Despite Williams losing straight sets, 6-2, 6-4, to world No. 12 and 2020 Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic during Wednesday’s match, the crowd gave her a standing ovation, twice, when she first took the court and after the final match. The tennis champ is seen wiping away tears in the video below.

In a post-match interview with the Tennis Channel, Williams complimented Bencic’s play, adding that it’s been “a pretty interesting 24 hours,” alluding to her headlining Vogue interview.

“It’s just been so memorable,” the tennis champ told the TV network. “Like I said in my article, I’m terrible at goodbyes, but… goodbye, Toronto!”

“I’ve always had some amazing times here both on and off the court, I’ll be coming back just as a visitor to this city,” Williams continued. “Otherwise, It’s been remarkable, I’ve had some really amazing matches here, some really cool wins, a crazy match against [Bencic] a few years ago, that was pretty intense.”

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Williams thanked the crowd “from the bottom of my heart” before exiting the court, leaving the Toronto-based tournament as a competitor for the final time. “It’s been a joy playing in front of you guys all these years,” she said. “Thank you.”

Prior to competing in Toronto on Wednesday, Williams earned her first singles win in over a year on Monday, defeating Spain’s Nuria Párrizas Díaz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4. The pro athlete will play next in Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Open before heading to New York City for her last U.S. Open.


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Ellen Bullock