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2022 US Open - Day 5

Source: Robert Prange / Getty

UPDATED: 2:30 a.m. ET, Sept. 3

Originally published on Aug. 29

Serena Williams‘ run at the U.S. Open came to an end on Friday night, and with it may come her immediate retirement.

It took Ajla Tomljanovic of Australia three grueling sets to finally fend off Williams in the tournament’s third round at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the Queens borough of New York City.

Williams’ loss came in spite of a packed crowd that was overwhelmingly cheering for the woman widely regarded as the greatest tennis player of all time regardless of gender.

MORE: Serena Williams Is Ready To Explore Her Greatness As A Mother After Her Historic Tennis Career

Among that crowd were a number of notable Black people who continued in what’s become a trend this week of attending the U.S. Open and representing for Serena. While we saw some of the usual suspects —  including movie director Spike Lee, who attended all three of Serena’s matches this week — there were also some new Black faces in attendance on Friday night in an example of the outpouring of support, particularly from the Black community.

They, like pretty much everybody else in the house and watching elsewhere, wanted to either witness Serena clinch another win and extend her illustrious career by at least one more match, or watch her lose as she closes one chapter of her life while opening another.

After Williams announced earlier this month her intentions to retire from professional tennis, it became painfully apparent that the 2022 U.S. Open would not only be her last major tournament but it would also likely be the final time fans get to see her competing at the highest levels in a sport that she dominated for nearly three decades.

US Open Tennis Championship 2022

Source: Tim Clayton – Corbis / Getty

While Williams’ matches have always attracted A-listers no matter when and where she plays, this year’s U.S. Open took on a slightly different tone as there was a bit of uncertainty about whether she could win after having not competed in nearly a year’s time and not winning a major tournament since 2016. Williams also celebrates her 41st birthday later this month, bringing her to an age that is more than 10 years older than the average professional tennis player.

It was in that context that Serena was playing, amplifying the anticipation of possibly seeing the final match played by the GOAT (greatest of all time).

2022 US Open - Day 1

Source: Quality Sport Images / Getty

And so it followed that everyone from the obligatory presence of Serena’s adorable little 4-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., to legendary boxing champion Mike Tyson, provided the necessary presence of Black people cheering on the very person responsible for helping to propel the browning of a sport that has for far too long — and wrongfully — been exclusively associated with whiteness.

MORE: What’s Next For Serena Williams? 5 Ways She Can Still Win After Tennis

And for those notable Black folks who couldn’t attend in person, a pair of virtual salutes particularly stood out this week as none other than LeBron James and Oprah Winfrey offered their own homages.

LeBron took to his Instagram Story and posted a photo of Serena during her match Monday night. The picture was accompanied by a simple word of encouragement: “TALK!”

Oprah, on the other hand, feted Serena with a surprise video tribute to the tennis icon’s career following the Monday night match.

 

Scroll down to see photos of the other notable Black folks who made sure not to miss Serena Williams’ final U.S. Open before she retires from the sport of tennis.

1. Russell Westbrook and Ciara

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

The married couple had some free time before the NFL season begins this weekend.

2. Ben Simmons, Saquon Barkley and Pusha T

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

The unlikely trio was seen cheering for Serena in a private box.

3. Seal

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

The Grammy Award-winning singer has been a mainstay at this year’s U.S. Open.

4. Zendaya

2022 US Open - Day 3 Source:Getty

Zendaya was trying her best not to be distracted while watching Serena play against Anett Kontaveit of Estonia on Day Three of the 2022 US Open on August 31.

5. Venus Williams and Tiger Woods

2022 US Open - Day 3 Source:Getty

We knew Venus would be there for Serena’s second match after losing her own opening round match the night before, but sitting near Tiger Woods was an unexpected flex.

6. Spike Lee

2022 US Open - Day 1 Source:Getty

“I think of you as my little sister,” Lee said to Williams in a video posted on the U.S. Open’s Twitter. “Congratulations on all you’ve done. You’re definitely one of the GOATs. I want to give love to your parents and your siblings, because they’ve helped you, too. … Spreading love is the Brooklyn way.”

7. Isha Price

2022 US Open - Day 1 Source:Getty

Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., daughter of Serena Williams, Isha Price, Serena Williams’ sister, prior to Serena’s match against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro during the Women’s Singles First Round on Day One of the 2022 U.S. Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.

8. NYC Mayor Eric Adams and MLB star Francisco Lindor

TENNIS-USA-OPEN-2022 Source:Getty

New York City Mayor Eric Adams (top C) and New York Mets Francisco Lindor (R) also attended.

9. Queen Latifah

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

10. Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

2022 US Open - Day 1 Source:Getty

*heart emoji*

11. Gayle King

2022 US Open - Day 1 Source:Getty

Gayle King interviewed Serena after the match.

12. Offset

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

Rapper Offset was seen sitting with model Bella Hadid as they both cheered on Serena.

13. New York City Mayor Eric Adams

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

New York City mayor Eric Adams and his girlfriend Tracey Collins were in the house.

14. Anthony Anderson

2022 US Open - Day 1 Source:Getty

“Black-ish” actor Anthony Anderson was there.

15. Mike Tyson and wife

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

Mike Tyson and his wife Lakiha Spicer didn’t miss the event of the night.

16. Anika Noni Rose

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

Actress and singer Anika Noni Rose performed before Serena’s match.

17. Lori McNeil

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

Former professional tennis player Lori McNeil (left) was there.

18. Rick Fox

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

NBA champion Rick Fox was in attendance.

19. Gladys Knight

Celebrities Attend The 2022 US Open Tennis Championships Source:Getty

Legendary singer Gladys Knight was there looking proud of Serena.

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