After An Illustrious Career, Serena Williams Announces Retirement From Tennis

With 23 Grand Slam titles to her name and a career that has inspired many around the world, Serena Williams announced that the US Open will be her final tournament as she chooses to focus on family.

She’s known simply by her first name, is a globally recognised face, and her prowess on the tennis court is of such a calibre that to witness her in action is to consider your life a lucky one. For decades, Serena Williams hasn’t just entertained audiences with her incredible skills, she’s also inspired countless generations to pick up a racquet and give the sport a go. Considered one of the greatest athletes of all time, with a staggering 23 grand slam titles to her name, news that Williams will be retiring from professional tennis was felt around the world as it seems clear that her absence from the sport will leave a monumental hole no-one could ever fill. 

Making the decision to step away from the game after the upcoming US Open, Williams made the announcement in a column penned for Vogue in which the 40-year-old described her intention to finish her playing career as an “evolution” away from tennis. She wrote: “I have never liked the word retirement.” 

“Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”

serena williams

Already, Williams has a life that is full, both with family and new career ventures. She has established herself with a venture capitalist company, Serena Ventures, and has invested in a number of organisations already. But most importantly, Williams’ decision is one grounded in the priority she places on family, having given birth to her first child, Alexis Olympia, in 2017.

“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she wrote. “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 he physical labour of expanding our family.” 

Her career is the stuff of legend, already being put to the screen in the captivating Hollywood drama King Richard. Alongside her sister, Venus, Williams worked tirelessly on her skills as she battled it out on the public courts of Compton, California, only to go on to become one of the most decorated sportspeople in history. Together, the sisters won 14 grand slam women’s double’s titles despite a limited schedule.

For Serena, she also won an Open era record of 23 grand slam singles titles, has earned a total of $94,588,910 in prize money and much more in endorsements. Of course, there’s also the four Olympic gold medals she has – three in doubles – and two mixed doubles grand slam titles won in 1998. While Williams fell short of the all-time record of 24 set by Margaret Court, the legacy of Williams is one that will continue to burn bright.

Williams’ retirement comes after 26-year-old Ash Barty made the call to step away from the sport in March. While Barty was only ever happy about such a decision, Williams expressed the complex emotions she is having to navigate and the sadness that has coloured the decision. “There is no happiness in this topic for me,” she wrote. “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.”

Although she gave every indication that the US Open will be her last tournament, Williams didn’t explicitly mention just when she would retire but it seems clear that the endpoint is insight and looming closer than most would have liked. “My goodness do I enjoy tennis,” wrote Williams. “But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mum, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just as exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”

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