USWNT applauds Serena Williams as ‘the GOAT’ ahead of U.S. Open second round

Serena Williams advanced to the round of 32 with an upset win Wednesday at the U.S. Open. (Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

The U.S. women’s national soccer team joined the chorus of voices paying tribute to tennis legend Serena Williams, sending the star a video message ahead of her U.S. Open match Wednesday.

Crystal Dunn and Megan Rapinoe spoke as Becky Sauerbrunn held a jersey with the “G.O.A.T.” acronym and the No. 23 emblazoned on it, representing Williams’ 23 Grand Slams — and her status as the greatest of all time.

“You laid the groundwork for so many of us,” said Rapinoe in a dispatch from the USWNT’s September camp in Kansas City. “You’ve been such an inspiration.”

USWNT general manager Kate Markgraf also sent love Williams’ way, congratulating the 40-year-old on her thrilling second-round win over No. 2 Anett Kontaveit.

“Inspiring. Intelligent. Powerful. What an honor to witness her greatness,” Markgraf wrote on Twitter.

Williams announced her plans to retire from tennis in a Vogue cover story in August, and she implied that her last hurrah would come at the U.S. Open, which has triggered a wave of support in honor of the legend.

Her next match will come Friday against Ajla Tomljanović in the round of 32.

The USWNT will face Nigeria on Saturday at Children’s Mercy Park in Kansas City, Kansas, with kickoff set for 1:30 p.m. ET on Fox. The second friendly against Nigeria is set for Tuesday at Audi Field in Washington, D.C., with kickoff at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2.