Once Serena Williams is ousted at the US Open, tension will turn to what’s next for the Compton legend.
It’s not like Williams to step down from the limelight. She has been involved in a ton of fashion/business/NFL and film production projects. In her announcement in Vogue magazine, she said she will be “evolving away from tennis” — not retiring.
Richard Williams, Serena’s father, who is no longer in the public eye because of his ailing health, told the Post several times in the early 2000s that Serena and Venus would sooner or later retire from tennis because they had too many other ambitions. He said his girls are too cerebral to hit the tennis ball around until their 30s.
Papa Williams’ prediction turned out to be wrong as Serena played until weeks before her 41st birthday. Venus, 42, whose Grand Slam production has been stalled by Sjogren’s syndrome, is taking part in this year’s Open draw.
“She’s never been someone who really cared about the politics of the game,” ESPN tennis star Chris Evert said of Serena. “That’s why I don’t really see them in tournaments. I think maybe one more child. I think she wants to spend more time at home with her husband. I think she’s into entrepreneurship. She has many businesses outside of tennis. I don’t think she will be as visible in tennis as she is outside of tennis.”
Serena pulled off her Greta Garbo act and didn’t attend the US Open Media Day on Friday. Instead, she appeared on a Today show panel this week, where she gave herself a small edge — perhaps in case she pulls off a Queens miracle and wins a record-breaking 24th Grand Slam title. Williams, who has not won a major since 2017, meets 80th-placed Danka Kovinic in a boisterous Ashe Stadium on Monday night.
“I mean, I don’t know, I think so,” Williams said when asked if she was definitely done after Flushing. “But who knows. I don’t think so [I’d play Australian Open], but you never know. I’ve learned in my career never to say never.”
When asked if it would be difficult not to break the Grand Slam record, which seemed destined to her, Williams said, “I’ve already broken the record. I never dreamed of having so many Grand Slam titles. I thought I would play tennis and win a Grand Slam or two. For me it’s a bonus.
“This whole journey is getting emotional,” Serena added. “I love what I do. It’s not about not loving my job. I’ve played it my whole life. It’s very emotional to evolve into something new.”
Serena, Venus and their sister Isha Price were executive producers on the award-winning film King Richard, which chronicled their childhood. The film ended when Venus turned pro 25 years ago at the 1997 US Open. Serena has hinted that a sequel is in the works, detailing the iconic sisters’ different professional careers.
That may be her only tie to tennis in retirement.
“I just believe and hope that in some way she can stay in the sport,” said Rafael Nadal. “It’s going to be great for our sport because I always believe the sport is bigger when the legends of our sport are around the sport, right?”
She’s already been the driving force behind so many of the young stars chattering in awe and speechless around them in the dressing room.
Naomi Osaka said Saturday she cried the day before Williams’ Vogue announcement after watching her lose in Toronto earlier this month. Osaka sensed that the end was near.
“For some reason, I just started crying because I felt it,” Osaka said. “Then she announced it a day later. I thought, ‘Oh my god, this must be what devastation feels like.’ ”
As a two-time Open champion, Osaka recognizes that Serena transcends tennis – which bodes well for her to be visible after that tennis swan song.
She has reportedly invested in 60 startups. The Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. resident is a co-owner of the Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles women’s soccer team Angel City. She told Vogue investing in women-owned companies is a priority. Nothing should be off the table, not even drama and sports broadcasts.
“Business-wise, she’s very interested in tech, so I think anyone who follows that is clearly under her influence,” Osaka said. “Culturally and stylistically, she was the first to have her own line and things like that. There were definitely a lot of barriers that she certainly had to fight to break down.
“I know she didn’t call it retirement, she called it evolution, which I think is really cool,” Osaka added. “I feel like the term ‘retirement’ means the end of something. But since she says ‘evolution’ it means like an ongoing journey.”