Serena Williams, one of the most significant and dominant competitors in tennis history, will retire from the sport at some point after playing at the US Open for the last time, she announced in a personal essay published by Vogue on Tuesday.
I have never liked the word RetirementWilliams wrote. “It doesn’t seem like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Perhaps the best word to describe what I am doing is evolution. I am here to tell you that I am moving away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me.
Williams did not give an exact date for when she would retire, but by sharing the Vogue cover story on her personal Instagram, she hinted that the US Open, which starts later this month, could be her last tournament. “The countdown has begun,” she said, adding, “I’m going to enjoy these next few weeks.”
Among the things he says he’s moving toward is working more closely with Serena Ventures, his venture capital firm, and growing his family.
Williams told a story about her five-year-old daughter, Olympia, using an interactive educational app as they drove to get her a new passport. The app asked Olympia what she wanted to be when she grew up, to which she replied that she wanted to be a big sister.
“Trust me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” Williams wrote. “I do not think it’s fair. If I were a man, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be playing and winning while my wife did the physical work of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more like Tom Brady if I had that chance.
“Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those annoying women who loved being pregnant and I was working until the day I had to report to the hospital, although things got really complicated on the other side. And I almost did the impossible: a lot of people don’t realize I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month and something has to give.”
She went on to say that she and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, planned to have another child.
“For the past year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently received information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that when we are ready, we can add to our family. I definitely don’t want to get pregnant again as an athlete,” Williams wrote. “I need to be two feet from tennis or two feet away.”
News of her plans to retire comes the morning after her first singles victory in 430 days, when she defeated Spain’s Nuria Parrizas Diaz at the National Bank Open in Toronto on Monday. After the match, Williams hinted that the twilight of her career might be coming to an end and she said “there is a light at the end of the tunnel”.
Still, seeing the end hasn’t made reaching it any easier.
Williams said she was loath to admit that she had to stop playing and had barely talked about it, not even to her husband, because “it’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat and I start to cry.”
Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, has been a pivotal figure in tennis since winning her first US Open in 1999 and drew parallels – and distinctions – between her pending exit from the game and how other historical players left.
She wrote about Ashleigh Barty, the former World No.1 who left the sport in March at the peak of her career and felt ready to move on. She wrote about Caroline Wozniacki, who was the No. 1 singles player in the world for 71 weeks, and felt a sense of relief when she retired in 2020. And she wrote about how she hasn’t had those same experiences.
“Praise this town, but I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness on this subject for me,” Williams wrote. “I know it’s not usual, but I feel a lot of pain. It’s the hardest thing I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate having to be at this crossroads. I keep telling myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it isn’t. I’m torn: I don’t want it to end, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
Looking back on her career, Williams reflected on the remarkable trajectory of her life, a story that began in Compton, California “with a black girl who just wanted to play tennis” and saw her become arguably the biggest winner in any sport. point. .
The moments that stood out, as you stand on the brink of what comes next, were the victories, the thrill of battle, the joy of entertaining on some of tennis’s most historic venues, “waiting in the hall of Melbourne and to walk”. I walked out to Rod Laver Arena with my headphones on and trying to stay focused and drown out the noise, but still feeling the energy of the crowd. Night games at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing Meadows. Getting an ace on set point.
Achieving his height required a singular drive, something he honed and exercised throughout his career. Often he came from a place of defiance.
“To me, that is the essence of being Serena: hoping for the best in myself and proving people wrong,” Williams wrote. “There were so many matches that I won because something made me mad or someone discounted me. That propelled me. I have built a career channeling anger and negativity and turning it into something good. My sister Venus once said that when someone says you can’t do something, it’s because they can’t do it. But I did it. And you can too.
The American has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than any other woman or man. Only one player, Margaret Court, collected more, 24, although she did earn a share of hers in the amateur era.
Williams, whose last Grand Slam tournament victory came while pregnant at the Australian Open in 2017, was eliminated from Wimbledon in June in the first round, falling in the first round to Harmony Tan in straight sets.
“The way I see it, he should have had more than 30 Grand Slams. I got my chances after I came back from giving birth,” Williams wrote. “I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression. But I didn’t get there. I should, I could, I could. I didn’t introduce myself the way I should or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. It is actually extraordinary. But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter.”
The National Bank Open is only the second tournament of the season for Williams after returning to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago.
If he withdraws shortly after the tournament in New York, his final matches in Canada will come this week. Williams is scheduled to play Wednesday, an event that can be viewed on Sportsnet.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win New York, Williams wrote. But I’m going to try. And the previous tournaments will be fun. I know there’s a fantasy among the fans that he could have matched Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, ‘See ya!’ I get it. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for a final ceremonial moment on the pitch. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the worst thing in the world. But know that I am more grateful to you than I can express in words. You have led me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”
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