Serena Williams is stepping away from tennis, although she doesn’t have a firm date in mind and she’s not using the word ‘retirement.’
“I have never liked the word,” Williams wrote in the latest issue of Vogue. “It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.
“Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution,” she continued. “I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
For starters, Williams not only wants to spend more time with her husband, Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, and their five-year-old, Olympia, but the 23-time Grand Slam singles winner also revealed that the couple is trying to have another child in the near future.
“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,” Williams wrote.
“I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
And then there are Williams’ copious business interests, which includes her own venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which raised a reported inaugural fund of $111 million last March.
Williams is not quitting immediately. For starters, she’s currently playing in a tournament in Toronto, and actually just won her first match in 430 days on Monday after battling health issues for much of the past few seasons.
And as she revealed in her piece, Williams is still hopeful she can play at the US Open in New York later this month. She’s also committed to playing at next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,’ she wrote. ‘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.”
And Williams isn’t looking for the kind of ‘farewell’ tour that many male athletes have enjoyed before their imminent retirements.
Instead, the younger half of the famed Williams Sisters thanked fans in her piece and admitted that she’s going to miss the game.
“But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment,” she continued. “I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. 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.”
“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,” she wrote.
“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. If I’m in a grand slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help.
“The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams,” she continued.
“I had my chances after coming back from giving birth. I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression. But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually it’s extraordinary. But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.”