“He’s one of the reasons I’m here,” Williams told reporters. after defeating Anett Kontaveit in three sets, “one of the main reasons why I still play”.
Woods was also an enthusiastic supporter, delivering a vintage Tiger fist pump when Williams’ victory was complete and later tweeting, “It was a privilege to watch greatness.” But he was no ordinary fan.
As their legendary athletic careers drew to a close, Woods, 46, and Williams, 40, struck up a relationship in which she looked to him as a mentor, she recently revealed fashionable.
Williams had played just four games in the past 14 months, winning only once. His last game before the US Open was a lopsided game riddled with errors loss to 19-year-old Emma Raducanu on August 16 which only lasted 65 minutes. His trip to Wimbledon this summer ended in a loss in the first round and an injury when she slipped on wet grass.
She was beginning to mentally prepare for what she calls her next evolution – business ventures and perhaps adding to a family that includes his 5-year-old daughter, Olympia – but wasn’t quite ready to leave the sport in which she turned professional at 14. Enter the woods.
“I was talking to Tiger Woods, who is a friend, and I told him that I needed his advice on my tennis career. I said, ‘I don’t know what to do: I think I I’m done, but maybe I’m not done [tennis]” Williams told Rob Haskell in Vogue. “It’s Tiger, and he was adamant that I was a beast the same way he was!
“He said, ‘Serena, how about you just give her two weeks? You don’t have to commit to anything. You just go out there every day for two weeks and give it your all and see what happens. I said, ‘All right, I think I can do it.’ ”
Williams said she waited a month before returning to the court, where “it seemed like magic to pick up a racquet again.”
At that time, she said she “was good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether I should play Wimbledon and then the US Open. Like I said, this whole evolution thing hasn’t been easy for me.
For now, its development is on hold. Next up at the US Open is the Thursday night doubles with her sister Venus. She will face unseeded Ajla Tomljanovic on Friday and knows that with the No. 2 player ruled out, the draw favors her for some time as she tries to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 singles titles of the Grand Slam.
“I know there is a fan fantasy that I could have linked Margaret that day in London [at Wimbledon], then maybe break her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, ‘See you!’ Williams told Vogue. “…But I’m not looking for a final ceremonial moment on the pitch. I suck at goodbyes, the worst in the world. But please know that I am more grateful to you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many victories and so many trophies. I will miss this version of me, this girl who played tennis. And I will miss you.