Serena Williams's last ever match is most watched in ESPN's history

The defeat of Serena Williams at the US Open on Friday in the final match of her illustrious career attracted the largest tennis audience in ESPN's 43-year history.

At Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, 4.8 million people saw Williams lose to Australian Ajla Tomljanovic in the third round on average starting at 7:15 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. ET and reached its highest viewership of 6.9 million at 10:15 p.m. quarter-hour.

Williams and her sister Venus were teenagers when they first appeared on the tennis courts in Compton, California. They went on to dominate and transform the largely white sport, taking the tennis world by storm.

Williams transcended tennis as the 23-time Grand Slam singles champion. As a result of her anticipated retirement from the sport to concentrate on her family and business activities, there have been numerous tributes from athletes, celebrities, and politicians.

Through the first five days of the event, Williams's three singles matches and one doubles match with Venus helped increase viewership as an average of 1.1. ESPN networks attracted million viewers, an increase of 101 percent from 2021.

A network spokesman said last week to Reuters that the network would be happy to discuss the possibility of bringing Williams into the broadcast booth if she wanted to go in that direction after retirement. The network's stable of tennis analysts also includes former stars Chris Evert, John McEnroe, and Caroline Wozniacki.

In the first round of the Grand Slam, Williams easily defeated Danka Kovinic before shocking World No. 2 Anett Kontaveit on Wednesday.

She continued, "Thank you Daddy, I know you're watching," with tears in her eyes. Regards, Mom. I really want to thank everyone who is here and has supported me for so long—decades even. I'm incredibly appreciative of my parents because they deserve everything because they were the ones who began it all.

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