Serena Williams fell to 0-2 in matches since announcing “the countdown has begun” on her career, losing 6-4, 6-0 to U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu in the first round of the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday night.
The 40-year-old Williams said last week in a Vogue magazine essay and an Instagram post that her career was winding down, although she did not explicitly say the U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 29 in New York, would be her last tournament.
The Cincinnati event was the second U.S. Open tuneup for Williams, and the next time she takes the court will be at Flushing Meadows. She lost to Belinda Bencic in straight sets last week in Toronto. A day before the announcement, Williams beat Nuria Parrizas-Diaz for her first match win since the 2021 French Open.
Williams is a 23-time Grand Slam champion, most recently in 2017 at the Australian Open, when she was pregnant with daughter Olympia. She said wanting to expand her family was a big reason she plans to step away.
Williams briskly left the court after the 1-hour, 5-minute match against Raducanu, waving to the crowd as she exited.
Earlier Tuesday, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka was eliminated by Shuai Zhang, 6-4, 7-5.
The tournament lost another big name, Coco Gauff, when she retired from her match against qualifier Marie Bouzkova with a left ankle injury. Gauff had her ankle taped after the first set and dropped out after the first game of the second set.
Karolina Pliskova advanced with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Williams’ older sister, Venus. Bencic fell to Sorana Cirstea, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-4.
Rafael Nadal, sidelined since withdrawing from Wimbledon with an abdominal tear, practiced before a large crowd. The 22-time Grand Slam champion is scheduled to play a second-round match on Wednesday.
In a men’s first-round match, Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-5, 6-4.