Serena Williams Announces Her Retirement from Tennis

·3 min read
Photo credit: John Walton - PA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: John Walton - PA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: John Walton - PA Images - Getty Images
Photo credit: John Walton - PA Images - Getty Images

Serena Williams has officially announced her retirement from tennis—and she did it in style, gracing the cover of Vogue’s September 2022 issue to share the news. But Williams also stated that she doesn’t want to call it a retirement. “I have never liked the word retirement,” she told Vogue. “It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me.”

Nevertheless, the longtime tennis champion is saying goodbye to the sport after a nearly 27-year career. Williams has won 23 Grand Slams—that’s winning Wimbledon plus the U.S., French, and Australian Opens all in one year—plus four Olympic gold medals. Her last Grand Slam win was in 2017, when, by the way, Williams was two months pregnant with her daughter, now almost 5-year-old Olympia.

Williams’s family is one of the reasons she’s making her departure from tennis. “I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” Williams said to Vogue. “But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.” She went on to explain that she won’t sacrifice anything when it comes to Olympia—Williams wants to be there for every moment.

She also hopes to expand those family moments and noted that she and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, are looking to have a second child. (Olympia, she says, has been asking for a little sister.) “We recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family,” Williams said to Vogue. “I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”

Unfortunately, as a woman, Williams has less of the luxury to choose both career and family. “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,” she said, referring to Tom Brady as an example. But for those of you who are hoping Williams will make a Brady-esque 180 and decide to un-retire in a few months, don’t hold your breath. Aside from focusing on family, Williams is also ready to lean into Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm she started a few years ago.

“Every morning, I’m so excited to walk downstairs to my office and jump onto Zooms and start reviewing decks of companies we’re considering investing in,” Williams said. "Seventy-eight percent of our portfolio happens to be companies started by women and people of color, because that’s who we are.”

When it comes down to it, Williams wants to be remembered for more than what she can do with a racket. “I hope that people come to think of me as symbolizing something bigger than tennis,” she told Vogue. “I’d like it to be: Serena is this and she’s that and she was a great tennis player and she won those slams.”

So, as Williams says, she’s evolving. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution,” she said. “I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.” But the emotion is not lost on Williams, either. “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,” she said. “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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