There was no way to know if this was going to be the start of a long goodbye

or the end of a short one, no way to predict what Serena Williams might bring

to the tennis court on this opening night of the US Open.

At 40 years old, with the best of her on-court achievements behind her, Williams arrived in New York

already having written the tournament’s biggest headline. She’s ready to say goodbye to the competitive part of her career, 

a decision she described as an “evolution” away from the game. With that,

one of the most accomplished players in history, one who has faced nearly every imaginable hurdle a tennis match can present,

built herself a new one: the potential that every time she takes the court she could be playing her final professional match.

How do you put that emotion aside, how do you suppress the desire to play up to the thunderous reaction of

the crowd as you enter the court, to reward their faith? How to you push that all aside and focus on the court?