Serena Williams announced Tuesday she will be walking away from tennis after the U.S. Open.
In an essay shared by Vogue, Williams wrote the decision to leave the sport wasn’t an easy one; and it’s certainly not a retirement.
“I have never liked the word retirement,” Williams, 40, wrote. “It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me.”
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Instead, Williams sees her tennis farewell as an “evolution.”
“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,” Williams wrote for the September cover story. “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.”
Always fierce in everything she does, Williams has “evolved” several parts of her life in recent years, including with the creation of her business Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm, and the birth of her daughter Olympia, who turns five in August.
Williams wrote that she is hanging up her tennis racket to focus on expanding her family and business.
She will, however, still compete in the 2022 U.S. Open, which begins Aug. 23.
With 23 major titles already earned, Williams wrote via Vogue that she “wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon” this year. She admitted that she is also unsure if she will be ready for the U.S. Open in New York.
“But I’m going to try,” Williams wrote. “And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”
For the last year, Williams and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, have been trying for another baby, she wrote. She claimed Olympia is eager to be a big sister.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” she wrote. “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.”
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“But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter,” she wrote.
Williams is also excited to expand Serena Ventures, which provides capital primarily to women and people of colour. In her investment portfolio, there are already several giant, billion-dollar companies, including MasterClass, Tonal and Impossible Foods.
On Instagram, Williams shared the Vogue cover and wrote that her life is moving in a “different direction” from tennis.
“That time is always hard when you love something so much,” she wrote. “My goodness do I enjoy tennis. But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”
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“There is no happiness in this topic for me,” Williams wrote in the Vogue article. “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 don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next,” she continued.
Williams concluded by writing that she will deeply miss “that version of me, that girl who played tennis.”
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