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'The Countdown Has Begun': Tennis Legend Serena Williams to Retire After US Open

'The Countdown Has Begun': Tennis Legend Serena Williams to Retire After US Open

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Aug. 9 2022, Published 12:39 p.m. ET

It's the end of an era: Serena Williams will be retiring soon.

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The tennis legend recently shared her plans to "evolve" her life after the US Open and focus on expanding her family. The star touched briefly on the fact that being a woman forced her to choose, something most men don't consider when they grow their family, but called it an exciting chance to pursue spiritual and family goals.

'Evolution' not 'Retirement'

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Williams detailed her retirement plans to Vogue, sharing the cover image online with the caption, "Vogue. September issue Cover. There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction. That time is always hard when you love something so much. 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."

In her op-ed with Vogue, Williams explained that talking about her retirement has almost been a "taboo" subject, and that thinking about it brings her to tears. Williams loves tennis, but realizes she can't do everything she wants in life if she keeps devoting herself to her career.

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Williams explained, "Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. 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. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those annoying women who adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to the hospital—although things got super complicated on the other side. And I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don’t realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give."

The tennis star explains that she doesn't like using the word "retirement," but rather thinks of it as "evolution." The 41-year-old added, "I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family."

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It's a monumental shift in the landscape of women's tennis and tennis in general, as Williams is one of the most instantly recognizable tennis stars in the world.

Breaking Boundaries on the Court

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Alongside sister Venus Williams, Serena has been taking the world by storm since she first took the court professionally in 1995 at just 14 years old.

Her career stats include an impressive 73 career singles titles, four Olympic gold medals and 319 weeks at No. 1, making her one of the all-time greats alongside Venus. Together they share 14 major doubles titles.

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Venus has herself taken a step away from tennis in the last year, dealing with symptoms from an autoimmune disease called Sjogren's Syndrome.

While Venus has not officially announced her retirement, she's taking her time getting back on the court professionally.

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If both Venus and Serena retire, it will doubly mark the end of an era - but open up opportunities for those who were inspired to follow in their footsteps over the past 28 years.

In her Vogue story, Williams discusses the pain she's experiencing at the thought of leaving the sport she loves so dearly, concluding with, "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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