Just after winning her first singles match in 430 days, news broke in Vogue that Serena Williams plans to retire after the US Open.
I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don’t realise that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give. Serena Williams
Writing in Vogue under the headline ‘Serena Williams Says Farewell to Tennis On Her Own Terms—And In Her Own Words’, the former World No 1 said: “Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair.
“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 labor of expanding our family. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.
“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 adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to the hospital—although things got super complicated on the other side.
“And I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don’t realise that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.”
Never a fan of the word ‘retirement’, Serena will stand down after nearly 17 years since making her professional debut and 23 Grand Slams later, waving farewell and ‘evolving away from tennis’.
“I have never liked the word retirement,” she writes. “It doesn’t feel 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.
“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.
“A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family.
“But I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis.
“Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic.
“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. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry.
“The only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist!
“One thing I’m not going to do is sugarcoat this. I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way.
“Ashleigh Barty was number one in the world when she left the sport this March, and I believe she really felt ready to move on.
“Caroline Wozniacki, who is one of my best friends, felt a sense of relief when she retired in 2020.
“Praise to these people, but I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me.
“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.”
The American remains one shy of Australian Margaret Court’s record 24 majors, but she has won the most Grand Slams in the Open Era.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York,” she continues. “But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.
“I know there’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, ‘See ya!’ I get that. It’s a good fantasy.
“But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment.
“I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words.
“You have carried 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.”
To read the full article in Vogue click HERE.