US Open 2022 - What it be want to be Ajla Tomljanovic, the villain in the Serena Williams' fairy-tale farewell - ESPN

ny -- Ajla Tomljanovic's first phrases in her postmatch interview Friday after beating Serena Williams have been, "i'm feeling in fact sorry."

She spoke just a minute after Williams had walked off the court at Arthur Ashe Stadium, for what is probably going to be the last time as a pro. Tomljanovic had bested her in a three-hour epic fit.

It turned into probably the most greatest victories of her life, however there have been no celebrations.

"i really like Serena simply as a whole lot as you do," Tomljanovic advised the crowd, remembering how she'd idolized her transforming into up. "it's a surreal second for me."

Williams had saved 5 suit points until the sixth one ended her crusade. She had been building at the US Open, after successful her opening two fits towards Danka Kovinic and world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit. towards Tomljanovic, she turned into the favourite -- for the primary time in a suit this event. There was a transforming into feeling that she might do the unthinkable and win the entire component; the farewell tour changed into metamorphosing into essentially the most mind-blowing last last dance that handiest Serena Williams could craft.

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    but astonishing sports fairy memories are rare. And for each one of those unicorns, there are far more experiences of dream narratives being ruined with the aid of reluctant protagonists.

    "I think like a villain," Tomljanovic talked about afterward.

    She's now not the first to feel like that, nor the remaining. some of game's ultimate figures have been unable to finish their careers on a excessive note and it leaves a lingering affect on those that halted their heroes in the last steps.

    Take Larry Holmes when he stopped Muhammad Ali in October 1980. Ali had come out of a yearlong retirement to take the battle with Holmes, however Ali changed into a shadow of his former self, and Holmes gained conclusively with Ali's coach Angelo Dundee stopping the combat in the 10th circular. Holmes cried in his postfight interview. "should you battle a friend, to me a brother, you cannot get happiness," Holmes said. "I fought a no-win condition." Ali would combat another time, and lose.

    There are the other forms of awesome sports narratives the place one historical-timer manages to roll lower back the years to throw the younger era off shelter, only to fall brief. there were those 4 memorable days on the 2009 Open where fifty nine-yr-old Tom Watson just neglected out on the Claret Jug as he lost a 1-shot lead on the last day and then fell in a playoff to Stewart Cink.

    Tomljanovic, ranked No. forty six, will next face Liudmila Samsonova on Sunday within the fourth round. Danielle Parhizkaran-u . s . a . these days sports

    Afterwards, Cink become asked even if he felt he had ruined the conclusion of a Hollywood film. "No, I don't suppose that means. I suppose like that whether Tom changed into fifty nine or 29, you be aware of, he became one of the field, and i needed to play in opposition t every person on the field and the course to come back out on proper," Cink said. "I don't suppose the rest can be taken away. someone might also disagree with that, nonetheless it's going to be difficult to convince me."

    He delivered: "I do not think ashamed. I don't consider disenchanted. i'm completely satisfied as punch that I've gained this tournament."

    and then there are the pre-planned farewells, like Serena's, where nostalgia and belief create a frenzy to all these looking at, hoping to witness one remaining golden second. Usain Bolt's farewell to the sport looked for all of the world to be a assured gold medal in the a hundred meters on the 2017 World Championships in Athletics in London.

    but as a substitute, it become Justin Gatlin who got here through for gold, with Bolt in third.

    As Gatlin did his victory lap, he become booed by way of the gang. "Bolt came to me after the race and observed I failed to deserve all the boos from the group, and he's comfortable I've stayed stylish," Gatlin said. "it be a surreal moment. he will be a figure it really is widely neglected, even by means of me."

    Six days later, Bolt's hamstring gave out on the finishing straight of the men's 4x100. it could be his last act on the track -- the photo of the fallen hero, his physique giving out, simplest including to the legend.

    On Friday at Arthur Ashe, Tomljanovic's triumphs had been met with silence, and then a crescendo of noise to are trying and rouse Williams. The victory took Tomljanovic 3 hours, 5 minutes, but turned into constructed on a lifetime of ability and intellectual power. anytime she hit her first serve into the web, the fault was cheered. The one time her frustration boiled over and she spoke to the umpire about being interrupted by means of noise from the crowd, her inflammation become met with boos.

    To deal with having the enormous majority of the 23,859 viewers cheering for her opponent, she channeled Novak Djokovic's tactic. "When the group changed into against him, he simply pretends it be for him," she talked about after her 2nd-circular win. "once they chant, I don't know, Rafa, Roger, whoever, he hears Novak, Novak. I kind of liked that response."

    It worked for her. "I used that [tactic] and that i also simply basically blocked it out as much as I could," Tomljanovic pointed out after beating Williams. "It did get to me just a few times internally. I mean, I did not take it personally as a result of, I mean, i would be cheering for Serena, too, if I wasn't playing her. however it changed into in reality not convenient. There become no opposite direction."

    She fashioned her personal "little bubble," and then after three units of blistering tennis, she watched Williams' on-courtroom interview and had a million emotions running via her.

    Tomljanovic, as she watched Williams' postmatch interview. Geoff Burke-united states of america today sports

    "[It was] doubtless the most conflicted I've ever felt after a win," she noted. "right through the healthy i used to be so desirous to win. however then when it ended, it practically failed to believe appropriate. When she started speaking about her family and every little thing, yeah, I acquired emotional as a result of i will relate to having a robust bond together with your household. When she noted that she would not be there if it wasn't for them, I relate to that lots. The complete second after turned into just complicated to tackle a little bit."

    the gang applauded after she spoke -- and it felt just like the first cheers she had heard that nighttime, barring the 15 or so people who sat in her container for the online game.

    On Sunday, Tomljanovic faces Liudmila Samsonova within the fourth circular. It might not be back on Ashe, however as an alternative on the subsequent largest demonstrate courtroom -- Louis Armstrong. To get again on to Ashe, she'll have to preserve winning.

    Her superior return in a Grand Slam to this point is two quarterfinal exits at Wimbledon. She's overcome one enormous hurdle to are trying to more desirable that.

    but whatever occurs here, she'll at all times have that honor of being the player to knock Williams out of her closing US Open. And with that, she'll be the answer to one in every of game's exquisite trivia questions.

    "I mean, no one's going to pronounce my identify right," she stated. "it really is going to suck. however, I suggest, I do not think i would of been part of tennis heritage, so it's relatively cool. ... I really did need to play Serena earlier than she retired.

    "If i used to be the loser today i might probably be truly sad. I do not wish to say i'm sad, however simply conflicted a little bit."

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