Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes of all time, announced on Tuesday that she will retire from tennis after the 2022 US Open at the end of August.
In an article she wrote for Vogue, as well as in an Instagram post, the 23-time Grand Slam champion said that she still loves tennis, but is ready to move on to new things.
Over the past five years, it’s no longer a question of whether Williams will retire, but when. In 2017, when she was 35, she won the Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant with her daughter, but in September she needed an emergency caesarean section to give birth. She developed a pulmonary embolism after the operation, which kept her in bed for six weeks.
There was speculation then that Williams would retire, but she’s back, playing through postpartum depression and while breastfeeding. She had chances to win a major, but she couldn’t get there. It was probably her best chance at Wimbledon in 2021. When she entered that tournament, she was playing her best tennis since returning from maternity leave. But a leg injury forced her to retire in the first round, and her year-long absence from tennis has fueled speculation that she may never play again. She came back in June, although we now know that it was just the beginning of her farewell tour.
Although this was something she knew was coming soon, the decision to retire wasn’t easy. In Vogue, Williams wrote that she wasn’t really able to discuss the possibility of retiring with anyone, only bringing it up with her therapist.
“But I was hesitant to admit to myself or anyone else that I should move on from playing tennis,” Williams wrote. “Alexis, my husband, and I have barely talked about it; it’s like a taboo subject. I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. Come on, I got a nagging lump in my throat, and I started crying.” The only person I actually went to was my psychotherapist!”
Williams plans after retirement
Although she calls this “retirement,” she doesn’t really like that word.
“Probably the best word to describe what I do is has evolved,Williams said in Vogue. I’m here to tell you that I’m developing away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me. “
And those “other things” are abundant. She founded Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm, several years ago. Companies created by women and people of color make up 78 percent of their investment portfolio, and Williams said she’s excited to focus more on her company.
She also plans to expand her family with her husband, Alexis Ohanian, founder of Reddit. They already have a daughter, Olympia, who turns five in August, and she wants to be a big sister.
Sometimes before bed, [Olympia] He prays to Jehovah to bring her a little sister. (She doesn’t want to do anything with a boy!) I’m the youngest of five sisters, and my sisters are my heroes, so I felt like this was a moment I had to listen very carefully.”
Williams knew that in order to have another child, she would have to decide between that and tennis – a decision a male athlete doesn’t have to make.
“Believe me, I’ve never wanted to choose between tennis and family. I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t write this because I’d be there playing and scoring The wife was doing the physical work of expanding our family. I’d probably be more Tom Brady if I had the opportunity .”
While Williams wished she didn’t have to make that decision, she knew she didn’t want to be pregnant while playing tennis.
“These days, if I had to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I would choose the latter.”
Despite her plans for life after tennis, Williams has mixed feelings about the decline.
“I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing I can ever imagine. I hate it. I hate being at a crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it were easy for me, but it’s It’s not. I’m torn: I don’t want it to end, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s to come.”
Williams wrote that she is not looking for a “final celebratory moment on the court” at the US Open at the end of August. She knows that she probably won’t win, even though she intends to give her everything. Win or lose, however, she is proud to have won 23 major tournaments, the most number of tennis players, male or female, in the Open Era.
Williams doesn’t like to think about her legacy, but she knows that as a tennis player, athlete, and woman of color, she has opened doors for many.
“I would like to believe that thanks to the opportunities I have, female athletes feel that they can become themselves on the court,” Williams wrote. “They can play aggressive and pump their fists. They can be strong but they are beautiful. They can wear whatever they want, say whatever they want, kick and be proud of everything.”
For 20 years, Serena Williams has been women’s tennis, and her legacy is untouchable. Although she decided to move on, she is a legend who brought the sport to new heights. She may no longer play, but she has made her mark on every tennis court in the world.