Serena Williams announced that her tennis career was coming to an end, citing her desire to expand her family.
Williams shared her thoughts on her future in a I essay on Vogue.com on Tuesday, suggesting the US Open could be her last tournament.
She admitted she had mixed feelings about her next chapter and didn’t even like using the word “retirement,” opting instead for “evolution.”
“I hesitate to admit to myself or anyone else that I need to stop playing tennis,” Williams wrote. “Alexis [Ohanian], my husband and I have hardly talked about it; It’s like a taboo subject. I can’t even have that 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 really went there with is my therapist! One thing I won’t do is sugarcoat that. I know that a lot of people are excited and looking forward to retirement and I really wish I felt that way.”
In an Instagram post about her Vogue cover story, Williams said, “Now the countdown has started” and she plans to “enjoy these next few weeks.”
Williams, 40, currently plays at the Canadian Open and won her first match in 14 months on Monday advance to the second round. She is due to play at the Western & Southern Open next week, and implied she would try to play at the US Open later this month as her final tournament in a last-ditch effort to tie Margaret Court’s record 24 major titles .
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams said in the essay. “And I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win New York. But I will try it. And the preparation tournaments will be fun.
“I know there’s a fan fantasy that I tied up Margaret that day in London, then maybe broke her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony I said, ‘See you!’ I get that. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for a ceremonial, final moment on the pitch. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the worst in the world.
After tearing the Achilles tendon in her right leg at Wimbledon in 2021, Williams was banned from competing for several months, saying she wasn’t sure she would return. But it was a call from Tiger Woods that inspired her to get back on the pitch. She officially made her comeback in doubles at Eastbourne in June before returning in singles at Wimbledon the following week. She needed a wild card to play at the All England Club and fell out against them in their opening round match harmony tan.
Williams, who won her last Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in 2017, said her daughter Olympia, who turns 5 next month, has been asking for a younger sibling for some time. Williams acknowledged the injustice she felt when she had to choose between a career and family, per the Vogue piece.
“If I were a man I wouldn’t be writing this because I would be out there playing and winning while my wife does the physical work to expand our family,” Williams said. “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’ve loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. … But I’ll be 41 this month and there has to be something.”
Williams began her pro career in 1995 as a 14-year-old and has since gone on to become one of the all-time greats to have played the sport with 73 career singles titles, four Olympic gold medals and 319 weeks at No. 1. Along with her older sister Venus Williams, the pair have 14 major doubles titles. (Venus, 42, who lost her first-round match at the Canadian Open on Monday, has not said anything about her future.)
Despite a limited touring schedule, Williams is still the second highest-paid female athlete in the world as of 2021. She is involved in many lucrative partnerships and sponsorships and has several businesses of her own. She said she looks forward to bringing more attention to her venture capital firm after tennis.