Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion and the most feared women’s tennis player of her generation, is retiring from the sport, presumably after the U.S. Open.
She revealed the news in a first-person essay published online Tuesday by Vogue that she was “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
That includes trying to have a second child and working with the venture capital firm she formed. She turns 41 next month.
She said the topic was tough to discuss.
“I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis,” Williams wrote. “Alexis (Ohanian), my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic. I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud.”
In an Instagram post, Williams didn’t specify a retirement date but hinted that it would come after the U.S. Open, which begins later this month in New York. She has won the tournament six times, capturing her first Grand Slam title there in 1999 at age 17.
“The countdown has begun,” she said, adding, “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”
She will retire as the greatest American women’s player ever and arguably the best of all time with the numbers to back it up. She is the owner of seven titles each at the Australian Open and Wimbledon to go with three French Open championships and the six U.S. Opens. She held the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings for 319 weeks.
With nearly $95 million in career winnings, Williams has a career record of 855-153.
She won her 23rd Grand Slam title in 2017 in Australia while pregnant. After time off to give birth to her daughter, she has been beset by injuries and hasn’t reached her goal of tying Margaret Court with a record 24th Grand Slam singles title.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” said Williams, who lost in the first round to Harmony Tan of France. “And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”
Williams also won 14 Grand Slam women’s doubles championships with her older sister, Venus. She also won four Olympic gold medals — one in singles in London in 2012 and three in doubles with Venus.
Serena said in the Vogue article that she is ready for this transition, and that starts with an addition to the family.
“In the last year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and 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,” she said. “I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
–Field Level Media