Serena Williams’s 4-year-old daughter wore an adorable tribute to her legendary mom as the tennis superstar took the court Monday night in what’s likely the final singles tournament of her career.
Sitting in the stands at the US Open with her dad, Alexis Ohanian, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. was pictured in a matching sparkly Nike dress with her hair in white beads, a nod to the iconic look her mom and aunt Venus Williams sported when they made their professional debuts in the 1990s.
A packed, star-studded Arthur Ashe Stadium eagerly watched Serena Williams play her first round match against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro, knowing that if Williams lost, it could be the last time the 23-time Grand Slam champion competes in a major singles tournament. Earlier this month, Williams announced that she plans to retire sometime after the New York City competition to focus on growing her family.
She ended up beating Kovinic in two sets and will play in the second round of the championship on Wednesday.
Before the 40-year-old entered the stadium, the audience watched a touching tribute video narrated by Queen Latifah, who was also present, highlighting Williams’s past US Open performances and wins. Also this week, Gatorade released an ad narrated by Beyoncé honoring Williams’s legacy and the path she paved for Black women.
Speaking about Williams’s impact on the sport, Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka said during a press conference on Saturday that her legacy was indescribable.
“Like, she changed the sport so much. She’s introduced people that have never heard of tennis into the sport, and I think I’m a product of what she’s done,” Osaka said. “I wouldn’t be here without Serena, Venus, her whole family. I’m very thankful to her.”
“I just think she’s the biggest thing that will ever be in this sport,” the 23-year-old four-time Grand Slam singles champion continued. “It’s just really an honor just to watch her play.”
Following her win on Monday, Williams spoke of her decision to transition away from the sport, what she has referred to as an “evolution” rather than retirement.
“When you’re passionate about something and you love something so much, it’s hard to walk away,” she said during a center court interview with Gayle King.
During a post-match ceremony, the audience watched yet another tribute video, this one narrated by Oprah, and heard from tennis legend Billie Jean King, who recalled meeting then 6-year-old Serena and 7-year-old Venus at a clinic in Long Beach, California, in 1988.
“Serena serves, and I told her, ‘Don’t change a thing,'” King said. “You saw that tonight. Her serve is by far the most beautiful serve in the history of our sport.”
Williams is also expected to play in the doubles tournament at the US Open with her sister Venus.
“Just keep coming out and supporting me as long as I’m here,” Williams told the crowd in Queens. “I love you so much, and I’m so excited to be here.”