Serena Williams says ‘the countdown has begun’ to retirement

Saying “the countdown has begun”, 23 times in a Grand Slam Serena Williams Champion She announced Tuesday that she is ready to step away from tennis so she can shift her focus to having another child and her business interests, heralding the end of her career. that transcends sports.

In an article published in Vogue on Tuesday, Magazine, Instagram post – The kinds of direct fan interactions that celebrities prefer these days, a category that definitely fits into – Williams wasn’t entirely clear about the schedule for her last game, but she made it look like it was at the US Open, which begins in August. 29 in New York.

“There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction. This time is always hard when you love something so much. Oh my God, I enjoy tennis. But now, the countdown begins,” Williams, who will turn 41 next month, wrote on Instagram . “I have to focus on being a mother, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but exciting Serena. I will be enjoying these next few weeks.”

Williams, one of the greatest and most accomplished athletes in its history – or any other sport – wrote in her essay that she dislikes the word “retirement” and prefers to think of this stage of her life as “evolving away from tennis, towards other things that matter to me.”

“I feel so much pain. It’s the hardest thing I can imagine. I hate it. I hate being at a crossroads,” she wrote. “I keep saying to myself, I wish it was easy for me, but 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.”

Publicly reflecting on the end of her playing days is no surprise, given her age – her 10 Grand Slam titles have been surpassed by turning 30 – her history of injuries and her most recent record: one singles win in the past 12 months (that win came on Monday to Toronto; it is scheduled to play again on Wednesday).

“Serena Williams is a generational, if not multigenerational, talent who has a profound impact on the game of tennis, but an even greater impact on women in sport, business and society,” said Stacey Allister, US Open director, as our nation and the world grapple with With core issues of identity, Serena has stood as a unique role model for the best of humanity having crossed countless barriers to her engagement and ultimate success.” She leaves an indelible legacy of grace and determination that will inspire athletes, both men and women, for many generations to come. We cannot thank her enough for everything she has done for our sport.”

Williams’ stature as an athlete and pioneer is clear to all.

She was the first black woman since Althea Gibson in 1958 to win a Grand Slam title. Williams and her older sister, seven-time singles champion Venus, have helped expand the sport’s audience and attract new players.

“I grew up watching it. I mean, this is the reason why I play tennis,” said Coco Gauff, the 18-year-old African American who was runner-up at the French Open this year, on Tuesday. Because I saw someone like me taking over the game. And it made me think I could dominate, too.”

A US Tennis Association spokesman, Chris Widmaier, said the organization “will operate on the assumption that this will be Serena Williams’ last US Open.”

This is the last Grand Slam event of the year, and she’s won it six times, most recently in 2014, to align with seven titles each at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, as well as three French Open titles, across an impressive career in terms of peaks and titles. . longevity.

She also owns 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, all won with Venus, and is part of the great story of two brothers from Compton, California, both of whom grew up to be number one. No. 1, win dozens of awards and dominate long-distance tennis – a story told in the Oscar-winning movie “King Richard.”

Venus, at 42 and still competing, was the first in the family to break through, reaching her first Grand Slam final at the 1997 US Open. But it was Serena who quickly outpaced her sister, winning the US Open United Open 1999 at the age of 17, then went on to add another 22 wins (Venus won seven major singles titles), eventually establishing herself as a one-of-a-kind star. , known for more than her talent with a racket in hand.

Armed with as efficient a serve as ever, powerful forehands and backhands, instincts and speed that allowed her to cover every inch of the field and go from defense to offense in a jiffy, the younger Williams was an enviable will to win. This unwavering desire to be the best helped make her the best – she also occasionally got into trouble with chair judges during matches, most famously during the 2018 US Open final she lost to Naomi Osaka, a woman ten years younger who grew up. Glorify Williams, as do a lot of today’s players.

The official Wimbledon Twitter feed posted this message on Tuesday above a photo of Williams: “Some play the game. Others change it.”

“I don’t like to think in particular about my legacy. I get asked about it a lot, and I never know exactly what to say. But I like to think that thanks to the opportunities I have, female athletes feel that they can be themselves on the court,” Williams wrote. “They can play aggressively and pump their fists. They can be strong but beautiful. They can wear whatever they want, say whatever they want, kick and be proud of everything.”

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 24, although the Australian won her part in the amateur era.

“I would be lying if I said I don’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day in and day out, I don’t really think about it. If I’m in a Grand Slam final, then yes, I’m thinking about that record,” Williams said. I thought about it a lot, and it didn’t help. The way I see it, I should have had over 30 Grand Slams.”

But Williams continued to write, “These days, if I had to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I would choose the latter.”

She and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, have a 5-year-old daughter, Olympia, on 9/11. 1.

“Believe me, I never wanted to choose between tennis and family. I don’t think that’s fair,” said Williams, who was pregnant when she won the 2017 Australian Open for her last Grand Slam title. “If I was young, I wouldn’t write this because I was I’d be there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical work to expand our family.”

Williams said she and Ohanian want to have a second child, writing, “I definitely don’t want to get pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be in tennis on one or two feet.”

She was out of the tour for about a year after being injured during her first round match at Wimbledon in 2021. She returned to competing in singles at the All England Club in June and lost in the first round.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win New York,” Williams wrote in her post. “But I will try.”

Williams hinted in the Vogue article that the US Open would be her last but did not say so outright.

“I’m not looking for one last celebratory moment on the court,” Williams wrote. “I’m terrible at goodbyes, the worst in the world.”

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