In a reflective, moving essay for Vogue, Serena Williams—who is not only one of the greatest tennis players of all time, but one of the most important athletes in sports history—has announced that she's "evolving away from tennis." In the piece, Williams cites a desire to focus on her family, as well as her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, as the main reasons why this summer's US Open will seemingly mark the final time she competes.
"Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family," Williams wrote. "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."
Williams continues, "A lot of people don’t realize 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."
The Vogue essay marks the coming end of a legendary career, which has spanned 23 years. Williams's accomplishments on and off the court are truly innumerable, but in any conversation about her legacy, you have to mention her 73 career singles titles, four Olympic gold medals, 319 weeks spent as the world's number one tennis player, and 23 Grand Slams. Along with her sister, Venus, she's earned 14 major doubles titles. On the subject of Grand Slams, by the way, Williams did mention her chase of Margaret Court's record. "There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the 'open era' that began in 1968," Williams writes. "I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her."
Elsewhere in the essay, Williams states her discomfort with the word retirement—and even the thought of stepping away from the sport entirely. "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," Williams writes. "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."
As for what's next, tennis-wise? The US Open, where Williams has in great part made her legend, winning the event six times. This announcement will surely make the tournament one of the most anticipated events on our sports docket, and the legend's potential farewell a celebratory, although heartbreaking, moment.
We'll leave you with the final words from Williams in the essay. "I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst," Williams admits. "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."
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