Tennis legend Serena Williams eliminated from National Bank Open in Canadian swan song

Serena Williams has played her final match in Canada.

The all-time tennis great lost to Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the National Bank Open women’s tournament.

Williams, who turns 41 this September, announced her intention to retire at the end of this season on Tuesday.

She received three loud ovations before the match against Bencic even began, with the sold-out crowd at Toronto’s Sobeys Stadium clearly favouring Williams.

Signs dotted the 12,500-seat venue with messages like “Thank you, Serena!,” “Canada loves you!,” and “We will miss you!”

Bencic said after the win that it was always an honour to play Williams and that Wednesday night was all about her.

Williams looked to be in her classic form early on, scoring the match’s first point on an ace. Although the American won two games early, she could not keep up with the 12th-seeded Bencic, who raced ahead to take the first set.

The second set was more even, with Bencic and Williams tied 3-3, but the Swiss player won back-to-back games. Serving to stay in the match, Williams pumped her fist and yelled to the delight of the partisan crowd as Bencic’s failed return made it 5-4.

Williams hit the ball long on match point, bringing an end to the match and her time playing in Canada. It’s expected that she will formally end her career after the U.S. Open, which begins on Aug. 29.

WATCH l Serena Williams an inspiration, on and off the court:

An inspiration, on and off the court

These are the final weeks of Serena Williams’ remarkable tennis career; but likely not of her outsized role in public life. Journalist and athlete Renee Washington discusses Williams’ influence and impact, in this discussion on CBC News Network.

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