Serena Williams and the entire tennis community have been preparing for the legend’s inevitable retirement, but we still don’t feel strong enough to accept the goodbye of the WTA’s greatest player in modern times. The 40-year-old American has made the tough and uncomfortable decision, announcing in a lengthy Vogue interview that the US Open will most likely be her last tournament.
It’s not that the Hologic WTA Tour isn’t ready for Williams’ absence, as she’s already had large periods of inactivity, most recently a one-year patch from Wimbledon 2021 to Wimbledon 2022 without singles competition, but knowing that she was still around and waiting to come back did make us feel at ease. After the US Open, when the 23-time Grand Slam champion retires, women’s tennis will start to feel different, a new era will begin, the one without the G.O.A.T.
As Serena explains, one of her best friends Caroline Wozniacki felt a sense of relief when she quit tennis in 2020, and Ashleigh Barty was absolutely ready to move on when she shocked the world with her retirement earlier this year. Serena’s story is different. The topic of retirement is a taboo in her family and she doesn’t really want to leave the sport, but it is simply time to move on to other things in life:
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. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to look at this magazine when it comes out, knowing that this is it, the end of a story that started in Compton, California, with a little Black girl who just wanted to play tennis.
Talking to Vogue, Williams said that her daughter Olympia wants a baby sister. The youngest of five sisters herself, Serena calls her siblings her heroes and wants to make her child’s wish a reality. Williams revealed that in the last year she and her husband Alexis Ohanian have been trying to have another child.
The tennis legend, who was two months pregnant when she won the 2017 Australian Open, definitely doesn’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. Since leaving the sport is such a difficult life decision for her, she wishes she was a man, as then she would have easily expanded her family without sacrificing her career:
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.
Evolving away from tennis, besides family life, Williams will shift her focus to Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm she started a few years ago.
This week at the National Bank Open in Toronto, Williams won her first singles match in 14 months. Since 2000, only three more WTA players over 40 years old have won a WTA-level main-draw match: Martina Navratilova, Kimiko Date-Krumm, and Venus Williams.