The tears came immediately after she was asked whether it would be her last time in Australia after she made a prolonged exit from Rod Laver Arena following the match.
According to Wilander, Williams’ tears were simply those of disappointment due to her missed opportunity at another Grand Slam title.
“I think we see those tears because I think she was disappointed in the way she played,” Wilander told Eurosport.
“I think she had really high hopes, she had a really good start. If she got to 3-0, it could have been 4-0, then 5-0.
“She was a bit unlucky and I think she has taken a step in the right direction.
“For her this is a bigger loss, because she is moving better, she is playing better and she is still not really close to Osaka.
“I feel that’s where the emotions start – she’s probably thinking, what do I need to do now?”
Wilander’s view was also echoed by men’s world No.1 Novak Djokovic, who like Williams, has dominated the Australian Open in the modern era.
“When you’re chasing big things that are related to the history of the sport, obviously it has a lot of weight, a lot of pressure,” Djokovic said after his semi-final win over Russia’s Aslan Karatsev.
“And regardless of the amount of years that you have played on the tour and the experience that you have, you still feel it on your shoulders. I can empathize with Serena and what she’s going through.
“She’s such an amazing champion that inspires both male and female athletes around the world in what she has been doing, I mean, still is doing in her age, is extraordinary.
“Regardless of all the success that she had, you know, I know that when you lose a big match you’re frustrated. You’re pissed off and you’re emotional. Of course, it’s completely understandable.
“When you see a larger picture for her and everything that who she is, what she stands for on and off the court, it’s — I mean, she’s one of the greatest ever. I mean, there is no doubt, athletes, not just tennis player.
“I’m proud and honored to be playing at the same time she does and to see her greatness, experience her greatness is a thrill.”