“I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis” : Serena Williams announces impending retirement

23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams says she wants to expand her family and will retire from the sport after the next few weeks

Serena Williams Serena Williams Image Credit: Antoine Couvercelle / Panoramic

23-time Grand Slam singles champion Serena Williams has announced her impending retirement from the sport that she has dominated for more than two decades in a detailed letter she has written in Vogue magazine, which came out earlier today.

Williams, who won her first singles match in 14 months on Monday in Toronto, is also scheduled to play in next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and the US Open later this month. While she has not explicitly stated in her letter which her last tournament would be, it appears that she will hang up her racquet after the US Open, a decision she says driven by her desire to expand her family.

Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is ‘evolution’

Serena Williams

“I have never liked the word ‘retirement’. 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’. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis” Serena writes in the article.

“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. I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”

“It felt magical to pick up a racket again” – Serena Williams on her recent return to the sport

Serena Williams also talks about how she would love to have the all-time record of Grand Slam singles titles (she is currently one short of Margaret Court’s 24), but she is prioritizing her family over her career now.

“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.”

Serena Williams, 23 Grand Slam titles
In the Open era, Serena Williams is the player who has captured the most Grand Slam tournaments (23) among the men and the women. From 1999 to 2017, the American won 7 Australian Opens, 7 Wimbledons, 6 US Opens and 3 Roland Garros titles. She hopes to equal Margaret Court’s record (24 Grand Slam titles) before the end of her career.

In the final part of the letter, Serena says she does not know if she will be ready to win the US Open and doesn’t want a ceremonial farewell on court but hopes that the next few weeks will be fun and expresses her heartfelt gratitude to her fans.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. 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. I know there’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, “See ya!” I get that. It’s a good fantasy.”

“But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. 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.”

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