Tennis legend Serena Williams, one of the most decorated athletes of all time and a 23-time grand slam singles champion, has announced that she is retiring from professional tennis, so she can focus on growing her family.
She explained her decision in a cover story in Vogue magazine, published Tuesday. She said she didn’t want to choose between her career and having more children, but at almost 41, “something had to give.”
“I have never liked the word ‘retirement,‘” Williams wrote. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is ‘evolution.’ I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
Serena Williams announces retirement
Williams gave no timetable for her official retirement. She suggested she will compete at the US Open, which starts later this month in New York.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” Williams said. “If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labour of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”
Williams is married to Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian. She gave birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia, in 2017. The tennis champion wrote in a 2018 op-ed about her complicated pregnancy after a pulmonary embolism sparked a slew of complications.
“I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks,” Williams wrote in an Instagram post on Tuesday.
After tennis, Williams also plans to focus on her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which primarily invests in businesses started by women and people of colour. Her firm raised $111 million in outside financing this year.
Williams, who started playing at the young age of 14, said there is no happiness for her while discussing her retirement topic.
“I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not. I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
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