NEW YORK   -   Serena Williams bowed out of the US Open and headed into retirement on Friday after a battling loss to Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic while world number one Daniil Medvedev crushed the giant-killing dreams of Chinese youngster Wu Yibing with an emphatic victory.

On another night of searing emotion in the Billie Jean King Tennis Center’s main Arthur Ashe Stadium, 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams finally met her match in Tomljanovic, losing 7-5, 6-7 (4/7) 6-1 in an attritional slug-fest last­ing more than three hours.

The defeat was almost certainly Wil­liams’ last ever appearance in Grand Slam singles event, the final act of a 27-year professional career that saw the 40-year-old American become a sporting and cul­tural icon who many believe is the great­est women’s tennis player in history.

“It’s been a fun ride,” a clearly emotion­al Williams said in an on-court interview following her loss. “It’s been the most in­credible ride and journey I’ve ever been on, I mean, in my life. “I’m just so grate­ful to every single person that’s ever said, ‘Go, Serena,’ in their life. You got me here.”

Although Williams has not definitively announced her retirement, she said in a Vogue magazine essay last month that she would “evolve” away from tennis after the US Open. Williams said Friday that she was excited by the prospect of her life after tennis.

“I’m ready to, like, be a mom, explore a different version of Serena,” she said. “Technically in the world I’m still super young, so I want to have a little bit of a life while I’m still walking.”

Golf superstar Tiger Woods and for­mer US first lady Michelle Obama were among a legion of admirers who paid tribute to Williams following her US Open exit. “@serenawilliams you’re lit­erally the greatest on and off the court,” tweeted Woods. “Thank you for inspiring all of us to pursue our dreams. “Congrats on amazing career, @SerenaWilliams! How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time,” tweeted Obama.

In other matches, Tunisia’s fifth-seeded Ons Jabeur made it to the fourth round at the 10th attempt with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over 31st seed Shelby Rog­ers. Jabeur will face 18th seed Veronika Kudermetova in the last 16. The Russian blew past Hungary’s Dalma Galfi 6-2, 6-0.

US teenager Coco Gauff meanwhile reached the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-3 defeat of compatriot Madison Keys. In the men’s draw, defending champion Medvedev ended the run of China’s Wu to set-up a blockbuster last-16 clash against Nick Kyrgios. Medvedev eased past world number 174 Wu, who came through qualifying, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. Medvedev is de­lighted with his form as he approaches the business end of the tournament