Serena’s retirement could be the beginning of golden era’s end

The American, who will turn 41 years old next month, had said that the countdown had begun for her to quit playing and devote more time to her family and business.
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NEW YORK: Serena Williams’s decision to bow out has left tennis staring at the beginning of the end of the sport’s golden era, a dreaded but inevitable prospect that has long been on the horizon.

The American, who will turn 41 years old next month, had said that the countdown had begun for her to quit playing and devote more time to her family and business. The decision would have sent shivers down the spines of tennis administrators and organisers. “She is box office,” former British No.1 Greg Rusedski summed it up on Sky Sports.

“She has carried women’s tennis for the last two decades with her sister Venus. You have obviously had other great players around them, but she brings tennis fans to the sport. She is iconic and we are losing an icon of our sport. She will be truly missed.”

Serena could well be the first in a series of ageing greats to call time on their playing careers. Like Serena, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have dominated for the last two decades and revolutionised the sport, drawing in fans and a long line of sponsors.

All four of them continue to lure fans to the stands, mobile and television screens even after two decades on the tour while their commercial pull still mesmerizes brands and advertisers. Injuries to Serena, Federer and Nadal in recent years have raised the ‘retirement’ question time and again and fans, and pundits have wondered how the sport would cope with the prospect of losing their most marketable athletes.

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