(CNN) — Serena Williams’ legendary tennis career has likely come to an end after she fell to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović in the third round of the US Open at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, New York.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion leaves an indelible mark, not only on tennis, but all of sport.

Tomljanović, who won 7-5 6-7(4) 6-1, advances to the round of 16 at the US Open for the first time.

In an on-court interview with ESPN after the match, Williams was asked whether she would reconsider her evolution away from tennis, as she has put it.

“I don’t think so, but you never know,” she said.

In a happy tears-filled interview she thanked her parents, saying she was very grateful to them because they started everything.

And she credited her older sister, Venus Williams, for her success.

“I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus,” she said. “She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed.”

After her improbable second-round win over Anett Kontaveit, Serena Williams, 40, summed up her surprise performances at the US Open better than perhaps anybody else could.

“I’m just Serena,” she said matter-of-factly, a quote that will no doubt go down as one of the most memorable in sport.

That ability to find another gear and dig even deeper in the most difficult moments has provided the bedrock for Williams’ sustained success over more than 20 years on the Tour.

She showed the same grit and tenacity Friday as the world No. 46 Tomljanović was on top of her game.

Williams, widely considered the greatest women’s tennis player and arguably the greatest tennis player, fought off five match points before a shot into the net ended it.

Given her form coming into the US Open — just one win since returning to the circuit in June after a year out with injury — it was fair to assume that Williams’ opening round match against Danka Kovinic would be little more than an emotional farewell from tennis for the 23-time grand slam champion.

But being “just Serena,” Williams produced by far her best tennis of the season to consummately dispatch Kovinic and extended her last dance in New York by couple of days.

Then came Kontaveit, the world No. 2 and one of the toughest players on Tour. The Estonian would provide a much sterner test than Kovinic and Williams undoubtedly went into their match as the considerable underdog.

Surely, after two glittering decades at the top, this is where Williams’ career would come to end? Of course it didn’t. She is, after all, “just Serena.”

In her three-set win over Kontaveit, Williams elevated her level of tennis to a place many thought she may no longer be able to reach. The accuracy and power in her widely feared serve seem to have returned, as has her speed around the court.

Tomljanovic reached a career-high ranking of 38 this season and has enjoyed some notable success in 2022, including quarterfinal runs at Wimbledon and the recent Cincinnati Open.

On Friday she was steady as she had just 30 unforced errors to Williams’ 51.

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