To see John Isner’s last set of his singles match on Thursday, Manhattanite Josh Zipin hurried from Arthur Ashe Stadium to the Grandstand court at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre. Zipin, 34, said he was interested in seeing Isner play for the first time so he could see the “insane” serve for himself.
Isner, a 38-year-old American, has been a tennis superstar for 16 years. He is known for his spectacular serve, strong groundstrokes, and quick hands at the net, where he excels at volleys and overheads.
Isner, who was born in North Carolina and has a height of 6 feet 10 inches, now holds the record for most career aces by a male player on the ATP Tour. However, he is most well known for his 2010 Wimbledon victory against the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut in the longest tennis match in history, which lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes over three days. Wimbledon decided to use a final-set tiebreaker after the encounter and another Isner marathon in 2018.
From 2010-2019, a full decade, Isner had time in the top 20 of the singles rankings. His career prize money totals about $23 million, and he has reached the semifinals of both the U.S. Open (2011) and Wimbledon (2018).
On Thursday, he fired that serve for the final time in a professional competition. Before the U.S. Open, Isner revealed on X (previously Twitter) that he was retiring from professional tennis to spend more time with his wife, Madison, and their four children.
On Tuesday, Isner defeated Facundo Diaz Acosta, an unseeded player from Argentina, in straight sets to go to the second round. Many of his contemporaries who have since retired were present, like as Bob and Mike Bryan and Sam Querrey.
On Thursday, he lost in five sets to a younger American called Michael Mmoh, who kept his cool while playing in front of a crowd that was rooting for his opponent.
Isner wrapped his head in a white towel after the match and tried to hold back the tears. The on-court interview left him unable to talk.
Isner later said that he had mixed feelings about the match, including disappointment in his performance, appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the U.S. Open one more time, and pride in his accomplishments.
He complained that it was difficult to put into words how horrible his body felt lately and that he was eager to finally be done with training. He expressed excitement at the prospect of pursuing his interests and focusing more on his roles as a spouse and parent.