After Williams announced she's decided to "move in a different direction" from the sport she's dominated the past two decades, Roddick called her upcoming appearance in the tennis tournament, her last professional Grand Slam event before retiring, "a historic event."
"It's a hard thing to come up with superlatives to describe what she's accomplished, what she's meant to the game," he exclusively told E! News. "I've known Serena since we were 8 or 9 years old. I'm happy she announced early. It gives us the chance to celebrate with her. I also hope that's not too much of a distraction. I hope it ends the way she wants it to."
Reflecting on the storied careers of both Serena and her sister Venus Williams, Roddick noted, "it's been amazing to have had a front row seat to their process of hitting balls six and seven hours a day when they were to becoming pros to becoming icons of our sport."
After kicking off the event at a Legends Unmatched VIP party featuring a performance by DNCE, he'll watch both sisters play from a VIP suite hosted by IHG Hotels and & Resorts, which has 17 brands and over 6,000 global destinations.
The outing is a special one for the dad of Hank, 6, and Stevie, 4, who he shares with wife Brooklyn Decker.
"I don't travel to many events," Roddick explained. "So, the U.S. Open is the one place I go to every year to catch up with people. It's definitely different sitting in the stadium than being on the stadium. This is the second year I've partnered with IHG. There's a tennis ball bed and a lounge for watching matches. It's decked out with furniture crafted from racquet materials."
"I always enjoy this event," he added. "I came for the first time in 1990. It's always a place that I feel very excited to get back to."
"I've never understood why we spent so much time on fitness and our craft, but weren't allowed to say, ‘Hey, I might have something that I can improve upon mentally.' I'm happy it's being spoken about," he shared. "And tennis, specifically, because you're not traveling with a team of people. There's a million great things about it and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it's a little more of an isolated existence than a lot of other sports, so credit to Naomi and Mardy Fish, who has been very outspoken about it."
The Grand Slam winner continued, "We spend so much time on the physical part of it. So to me, it just makes sense you should learn more about yourself and help get the tools to figure it all out."
Roddick is particularly grateful social media wasn't as prevalent during his career. Which leads him to his biggest piece of advice to athletes today: Don't get bogged bogged down by what people are saying online.
"I'll always tell the younger players, 'I understand that social media is out there. It was there at the end of my career. I use it now, but don't forget that it's a choice,'" Roddick said. "You can opt in and use it for what it's worth, but if you give credit to a nameless, faceless person who has criticism, I just really encourage them not to give that same amount of credit as those who are around you daily."