By Victor Kanayo
Tennis star Serena Williams on Thursday bursted into tears just as she completed the first stage of her farewell tour.
The American superstar who turns 41 next month, confirmed in a fascinating interview with Vogue that she is planning to retire imminently.
Williams revealed “the countdown has begun” as she prepares to “evolve away from tennis”.
And in her first tournament since the announcement, she was handily beaten 6-2 6-4 by Belinda Bencic in the second round of the Canadian Open 1000 event.
Serena is expected to play at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati next and then finish with the US Open before hanging up her racket.
And the emotions were running high as she bid a heartfelt goodbye to Toronto, a tournament she has won twice in her staggering tennis career.
Williams, watched courtside by husband Alexis and daughter Olympia, was presented with a beautiful bouquet of flowers after the Bencic defeat on Wednesday night.
The 23-time Grand Slam champ said through tears on court: “As I said in the article, I’m terrible at goodbyes. But goodbye, Toronto.
The next few weeks will be emotional ones for Serena, who is expected to say goodbye to the sport following her appearance at the US Open