LeBron James sent a heartfelt message to Serena Williams following the final match of the American’s glittering tennis career.
Williams, who turns 41 later this month, bowed out of the US Open in the third round – having confirmed before the tournament that it would be her last.
She produced a performance for the ages to knock out No 2 seed Anett Kontaveit in round two, but her tie against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic proved a step too far as she lost 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-1.
The curtain now comes down on the career of one of the greatest .ers ever to take to the court.
Williams won a staggering 23 Grand Slam singles titles and spent 319 weeks as world No 1, including a joint-record 186 weeks in succession between 2013 and 2016.
She broke down in tears after her defeat as tributes came in from around the world.
Basketball legend LeBron recorded a video message, which he captioned ‘#SerenaWilliams THANK YOU!! You’re so damn DOPE!!’.
‘Serena, [it’s] LeBron .,’ he said. ‘Wow, w. do I start. First of all, I can start by just saying congratulations to you, to an unbelievable career. You’re a GOAT.
READ ALSO Tiger, Michelle Obama lead tributes to ‘the greatest’ Serena
‘What you have done for the sport of tennis, what you’ve done for women, and what you’ve done for the category of sport, period, is unprecedented.
‘It’s been an honour to watch your journey, to watch you conquer all the goals you ever set out, to see you break records, to see you be amazing and transcendent, not only on the tennis court, but also off.
‘I literally could sit . and talk about your journey and just talk about watching you from afar and our relationship now for an hour, but I don’t want to bore you too much about stuff that you already know!
‘So I just want to say thank you for just being this inspiration for so many and never putting yourself out t. w. you didn’t feel like you were the greatest.
‘And showing the world that every time you were out t., you were the greatest. Win, lose, or draw, it didn’t matter, we all knew that you were the greatest.
‘Congratulations once again and I wish you nothing but the greatest journey ahead of you and every endeavour that you have outside of your respective sport.
‘You’ve been unbelievable, I salute you and when I see you I’ll give you a big, giant hug as well to show my appreciation.’
LeBron and Williams have been long-time friends and the LA Lakers star posted a video on his Instagram as he watched her beat Kontaveit in the second round earlier this week.
Follow Ankara Styles TV on Youtube