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emotions flow WATCH: Tearful Serena Williams casts doubts over her future after Australian Open defeat

When asked if she had played her last game in Melbourne she paused before saying: "I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone. So…”

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Serena Williams of the United States looks on in her Womens Singles Semifinals match against Naomi Osaka. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Serena Williams of the United States looks on in her Womens Singles Semifinals match against Naomi Osaka. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Serena Williams of the United States looks on in her Womens Singles Semifinals match against Naomi Osaka. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Serena Williams walked out of her press conference after breaking down in tears following her 6-3 6-4 Australian Open semi-final defeat by Naomi Osaka.

The 39-year-old was asked in her press conference whether she had just said farewell to the Aussie crowd for the last time and she failed to hold back the emotion as she left the room.

Williams gave the crowd inside the Rod Laver Arena a long wave goodbye with her hand on her heart following her 6-3 6-4 semi-final defeat by Naomi Osaka.

The gesture prompted speculation about whether the 39-year-old would ever be back competing at Melbourne Park, where she has won the title seven times.

When asked if she had played her last game in Melbourne she paused before saying: "I don’t know. If I ever say farewell, I wouldn’t tell anyone. So…”

Williams then became tearful during the next question, a relatively mundane enquiry about her unforced errors during the match, and said: “I don’t know. I’m done,” before leaving the room.

Williams once again came up short in her 11th attempt to move level with Margaret Court’s record haul of 24 grand slam singles titles, and it is now a year-and-a-half since she made a final.

Speaking on Eurosport, her old rival Justine Henin said: "I think she was better 10 years ago. Also the impact she had on the other players, we were really scared to play Serena. She was impressive, she was winning a lot.

“I don’t say she doesn’t have the same motivation but her life also has changed. Physically she was also probably at a better level.

“She’s 39, it’s amazing what she’s able to do, physically, mentally, but the game also has changed, it’s getting faster and faster and all the players know they can beat Serena, she’s going to be more pushed, and this is what’s the hardest for her.”

Williams has failed to win a Grand Slam event since her last triumph in Australia in 2017, with her future in the sport now under the spotlight.

Yet it seems likely she will carry on for a few more months at least, after if was confirmed the Wimbledon Championships will go ahead as planned in London this summer.

Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since the Second World War due to the Covid-19 pandemic last summer, but the Lawn Tennis Association have confirmed they are planning for a 'Summer of Tennis' that could include crowds in the stands, after the UK government hinted that will be possible amid a highly successful vaccination programme.

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