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Only Serena Williams’ body should tell her when to quit, not critics

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 09: Serena Williams of the United States returns the ball during her Women’s Singles quarterfinal match against Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria on Day Ten of the 2020 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 9, 2020 in the Queens borough of New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images/AFP

With a 24th grand slam title in view to equal the feat of Margaret Court, tennis poster girl and one of the greatest females to ever bless the court, Serena Williams, lost a chance to play in the finals of the Aussie Open, surrendering to the superior power of rising star and compatriot, Naomi Osaka.

Serena has come to love the Aussie Open for it was in the tournament she won seven of her 23 grand slam titles.

After a break from the court in 2017 to give birth her baby, not many gave her a chance to come back and dominate the sport she and her sister, Venus redefined when they burst to the scene professionally in 1999 as teenagers.

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Now 39 and slowing, critics believe it is time for the American legend to quit the game but she continues to brush off the calls for her to retire.

During her post-match press conference after her semi-final loss in Australia, Williams broke down when asked whether she had just had another bad day at the office.

With emotions welling up inside her, she responded: “I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone. So…”

The Michigan-born star then became tearful during the next question, a relatively innocuous question about her unforced errors during the match with Osaka, and said: “I don’t know. I’m done,” before walking out of the room.

Some critics have been unfair to Williams since her return to the court from maternity. First, it was about how she would get in shape for tournaments after spending just a year off the court nurturing her daughter. She defied the odds, came back strong and has been pushing hard for a 24th grand slam title.

Her latest conqueror, Osaka was the same opponent she faced at the US Open when she returned from her maternity layoff. Since that controversial and fateful U.S. Open final match in 2018, Osaka has won three Grand Slam titles and Williams none.

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Since becoming a mother in 2017, Serena is 0-4 in Grand Slam finals and has now lost in the semis in back-to-back majors in New York and Melbourne.

Williams is not the only oldie in active sports. Italian great and Juventus goalkeeper, Gigi Buffon is well in his 40’s, Portuguese football legend; Cristiano Ronaldo is still waxing strong for club and country and Pepe Reina of Spain is not about to hang his gloves at almost 40 years. Williams entered the ​Aussies Open ​tournament ​on the ​back of the​success of 43-year-old quarterback Tom Brady, who won his seventh Super Bowl on Feb. 7 with the Buccaneers.

In her latest setback in Australia, ​Serena moved very well through her first five rounds, including an impressive straight-sets win over world No. 2 Simona Halep.​ That in itself says something about the power and passion Williams still has for the game.

For all ​that ​she has done for the game of tennis​ and ​the ​many young girls she has inspired around the world to take up a racket and hit the court, she deserves unflinching support for her commitment to the sport​ in the time left for her to hit and surpass the 24th Grand Slam title​.

So when it is time for Serena to decide walk away from the court for the last time, only her body should tell her and not the voices of critics who want her to exit because of her age and inability to hit 24th Grand Slam title.

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