Some people seem to be born to do the extraordinary. That’s one of many ways to describe tennis phenom and all-around GOAT Serena Williams. She is the second most decorated tennis player in history, with 23 Grand Slam victories and four Olympic gold medals. Recently, Serena announced her retirement from the sport that became synonymous with her name, detailing her decision in a touching and vulnerable essay.
“Believe me, I’ve never wanted to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Serena said in a dedicated essay for Fashion.
“If I were a man I wouldn’t be writing this because I would be playing and winning there while my wife did the physical work to expand our family.” Serena has a 5-year-old daughter, Olympia, with husband Alexis Ohanian, and her decision to “evolve” away from tennis centers around her daughter and her desire to have more children.
“Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia,” she said. “I was one of those annoying women who loved being pregnant and worked until the day I had to report to the hospital,” Serena added, discussing the post-birth complications that nearly killed her. “A lot of people don’t realize I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month and something has to happen.”
For Serena, it’s “something” she’s going to “give” tennis. Not because she doesn’t like the sport, and it’s not because she doesn’t have support.
“The fact is, nothing is a sacrifice for me when it comes to Olympia,” she said. “It all just makes sense.
And for her, at least tennis feels different now. “I think tennis, by comparison, has always felt like a sacrifice, although it’s one I’ve enjoyed making,” Serena said. But it’s a sacrifice she’s looking to part with after her final round of tournaments in New York scheduled for later this month.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the run-up tournaments will be fun. I know there’s a fantasy that I have Margaret tied up in London that day, then maybe break her record in New York, and then say at the trophy ceremony: Goodbye! I understand. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for some ceremonial , last in-court moment,” she explained after explaining that she hates the word “retirement” and prefers “evolution” to frame her next stage in life.
“I’m terrible at saying goodbye, the world’s worst. But please know I’m more grateful for you than I can ever express in words,” Serena wrote. You’ve taken me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version mine, that girl who played tennis and I’m going to miss you.
While goodbyes are hard, Serena looks forward to days filled with Play-Doh and games from The Floor is Lava with her daughter, because what she likes, I like, Serena said. Serena is also looking forward to pouring her passion into other projects, such as her company, Serena Ventures, which she started a few years ago.
And after saying goodbye to Tennis, Serena looks forward to fulfilling her daughters’ biggest dream: becoming a big sister. I started a family. I want to grow that family.
To read Serenas’ full essay, go to Fashion.
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