Serena Williams has announced that this year will mark the season finale of her tennis career. In a lengthy personal essay in Vogue, Williams announced that she will be retiring from tennis. She explained that she is exiting the sport so she can focus on expanding her family instead of her resume.
“These days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter,” she wrote.
One of the things that led her to this decision was hearing her four-year-old daughter Olympia frequently wish to be a big sister. Whether she was praying or being asked what she wanted to be when she grows up, Olympia would always say she wants to be a big sister.
“Olympia says this a lot, even when she knows I’m listening. Sometimes before bed, she prays to Jehovah to bring her a baby sister. (She doesn’t want anything to do with a boy!) I’m the youngest of five sisters myself, and my sisters are my heroes, so this has felt like a moment I need to listen very carefully to.”
Williams said that during the past year, she and her husband Alexis Ohanian have been trying to have another child. When she gets pregnant again, she doesn’t want to worry about having a career.
“I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
Serena Williams said she doesn’t like the word “retirement” and is thinking about this more as a “transition.”
“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,” she said.
Speaking about this evolution is far from easy for the Compton native and often makes her emotional.
“But I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis,” she continued. “Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic. I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry. The only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist!”
The 40-year-old tennis champion added that it’s frustrating that as a woman she has to pick between having a baby or a career at this point.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she said. “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. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”
Since entering the tennis world in 1999, Williams has become highly decorated and celebrated. She has 23 Grand Slam titles, won four Olympic gold medals, won six career U.S. Open titles, three French Opens, seven Wimbledon championships and seven Australian open titles.