Celebrities flock to Serena’s swan song: Williams’ ‘farewell’ match at US Open draws big names like Mike Tyson, Vera Wang, Spike Lee and Anna Wintour
- Serena Williams faces Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the US Open’s first-round in Flushing, Queens
- Williams, 40, previously said she will ‘evolve’ away from tennis after the Open to focus on business and family
- A long list of celebrities are in attendance, including Mike Tyson, Anna Wintour, Rebel Wilson and Bill Clinton
- Tyson was seen smiling alongside retired tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, and her lap dog
- Curiously, Clinton was seen seated next to German-American sex therapist and talk show host, Dr. Ruth
- Alexis Ohanian was seen with their daughter, Olympia, who was sporting her Serena’s trademark beads
The hottest ticket in sports has given way to a star-studded crowd at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Vera Wang, Mike Tyson, Hugh Jackman, Anna Wintour and even Bill Clinton are all on hand for what could be the final match of Serena Williams’ illustrious career.
Anthony Anderson, Spike Lee, Rebel Wilson, Lindsey Vonn, and New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor were also on hand, as was Mayor Eric Adams.
Having previously announced her intention to ‘evolve’ away from tennis after this year’s US Open (don’t say ‘retirement’), Williams could very well be playing in her final match in Queens tonight against first-round opponent, Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic.
And if it is her final match, Williams could not have picked a better venue than center court in Flushing, where she’s won six singles titles and a pair of doubles crowns in front of New York celebrities, many of whom were seen sitting together on Monday night.
Tyson was seen alongside retired tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, and her well-behaved lap dog, while Clinton was curiously seated next to Dr. Ruth Westheimer, the famous German-American sex therapist and talk show host. And of course, Serena’s billionaire husband Alexis Ohanian was seated next to one of the evening’s biggest celebrities, the couple’s five-year-old daughter, Olympia.
Naturally, the demand to see Williams once more has soared.
The average resale ticket price for this year’s US Open is up 68 percent to $512 since Williams’ retirement announcement, according to ticketing and marketing analytics company, TicketIQ.
Meanwhile, secondary-market ticket prices for Monday’s first-round match spiked 300 percent, with the average ticket price hitting $987 — a record since TicketIQ began tracking the data in 2011.
The hottest ticket in sports has given way to a star-studded crowd at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium, where Vera Wang, Spike Lee, Rebel Wilson, Lindsey Vonn, Mike Tyson, Hugh Jackman, Anna Wintour and even Bill Clinton are all on hand for what could be the final match of Serena Williams ‘ illustrious caree
Serena’s daughter Olympia and husband Alexi Ohanian at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday
nna Wintour looks on prior to the match between Serena Williams and Danika Kovinic of Montenegro on Monday in Queens
Mike Tyson was seen alongside retired tennis legend, Martina Navratilova, and her well-behaved lap dog
Gayle King, center, in addition to New York City Mayor Eric Adams, center right, and New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor (lower right) are all pictured seated at Serena Williams’ match in Queens on Monday night
Vera Wang looks on prior to the match between Serena Williams of the United States and Danika Kovinic of Montenegro
Spike Lee made a pre-match appearance alongside Serena Williams at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night
Fans cheer as Serena Williams of the United States walks onto the court prior to her Women’s Singles First Round match against Danika Kovinic of Montenegro on Day One of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday in Queens
Actor Anthony Anderson is seen prior to the match between Serena Williams and Danka Kovinic of Montenegro
Alexis Ohanian, husband of Serena Williams, is seen prior to Serena’s match agains Danka Kovinic of Montenegro
The average resale ticket price for this year’s US Open is up 68 percent to $512 since Williams’ retirement announcement, according to ticketing and marketing analytics company, TicketIQ. Meanwhile, secondary-market ticket prices for Monday’s first-round match spiked 300 percent, with the average ticket price hitting $987 — a record since TicketIQ began tracking the data in 2011
Serena Williams of the United States and Danika Kovinic of Montenegro pose for a picture prior to their match on Monday
Williams isn’t retiring so much as reprioritizing.
As she recently told The Wall Street Journal from her luxury Manhattan hotel ahead of her final US Open, tennis is being minimized in favor of her five-year-old daughter, Olympia, and growing list of business interests, which have increasingly monopolized her time.
What she’s not doing — as she has maintained — is retiring.
‘I’m not retiring, I’m just evolving away from tennis and doing something else,’ the 40-year-old Williams told the Journal, echoing statements in Vogue earlier this month, when she announced her plans to leave the professional tour.
But while she’s refused to use the ‘R’ word to describe her transition, she admits tonight’s first-round match against Kovinic could very well be her last. At the very least, the 2022 US Open will be her final grand slam, and unless she wins in Flushing on Monday night, it could be her last chance to play in front of a packed crowd.
Win or lose, Williams is getting a farewell ceremony at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night, and the rest of her week will probably be quite busy, either way.
‘I probably should retire, for a few years at least, but for some inane reason I’m not,’ she said.
Currently, as any parent to a five-year-old can attest, her schedule centers around daughter Olympia. That means getting up with her at 7am, regardless of whether Williams is in training or not.
When asked about how Olympia impacts her routines, Williams said: ‘She totally threw a wrench in it, and it’s great.’
Fans of Serena Williams cheer as she plays Danka Kovinic, of Montenegro, during the first round of the US Open
New York Mets shortstop Francisco Lindor was on hand just down the street from where he does business at Citi Field
Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., center, strikes a pose, with mom Serena Williams, right and dad Alexis Ohanian, on the red carpet of the 2021 AFI Fest Gala Premiere of, King Richard, at the TCL Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, California, Sunday, November 14, 2021
Even before becoming a mother, Williams was never big on breakfast, saying she’s never really hungry in the morning.
Things are changing somewhat now that husband and billionaire Reddit co-found Alexis Ohanian has bought the family a farm with some accompanying chickens.
‘So we got some chicks and they grew up and now they’re chickens and I had some of their eggs, and it was really good,’ Williams said.
After Olympia is settled in the morning, it’s time for the endless parade of calls and meetings that fill investors’ days.
‘Wake up and go to the office and now that everything went digital, just sit and take calls all day,’ Williams said. ‘Usually when Olympia goes to school, I just go to work. I work-work-work and then I usually pick her up from school.’
Williams has vast business interests, including her own venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which raised a reported inaugural fund of $111 million last March. Furthermore, she and sister Venus are both minority owners of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, she’s part owner of a National Women’s Soccer League Team, and she has her own sustainable clothing line, S by Serena.
‘I like to invest in things where I believe in the founder,’ she told the Journal.
When asked for a piece of advice that has helped guide her, Williams said she always puts ‘God first’ and then ‘everything else falls into place.’
Serena Williams celebrates her first US Open title in 1999 after beating Martina Hingis
The decision to step away was inevitable for Williams, who has not won a major singles tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Were she a man, weighing business and competition would be much simpler.
‘Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,’ she wrote earlier this month for Vogue. ‘I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.
‘A lot of people don’t realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017,’ she continued. ‘But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.’
One unexpected problem on her way out the door: Progress.
Williams has struggled with age and injuries in recent years, but recently told Time that she feels she’s finally starting to hit her stride again.
‘I can see my improvement, and I’m like, Dang, I’ll be good in January,’ said Williams, who immediately dismissed the chance of playing in the 2023 Australian Open. ‘I’m not doing that.’
Realistically, another Australian Open just doesn’t fit into her life.
Williams wants to have another child with Ohanian, largely to give Olympia the camaraderie of a sibling.
‘When I look at Olympia, I’m really not performing at my peak, by not trying harder to give her that sibling,’ Williams told Time. Coming from a big family, and coming from five, there’s nothing better.’
In this file photo taken on January 12, 2020 Serena Williams of the US with her daughter Alexis Olympia after her win against Jessica Pegula of the US during their women’s singles final match during the Auckland Classic tennis tournament in Auckland
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