Serena Williams on Tuesday announced she would retire from professional tennis in the next weeks, setting the US Open as a possible finish line for her title-laden playing career.
“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,” the US player wrote in an open letter in the Vogue magazine.
“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,” the 23-time Grand Slam champion said.
“I’m going to relish these next few weeks,” she wrote on social media as she shared the letter. “The countdown has begun”.
Williams, who turns 41 next month, said that having a second child was among the reasons behind her decision to hang her racket.
She gave birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. on September 1, 2017, after a complicated delivery in which she suffered a pulmonary embolism.
“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!)” 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 the physical labor of expanding our family,” she added.
Williams also acknowledged that, unlike other athletes who retired, she feels “a great deal of pain” at having to choose between her professional career and her personal life.
Although Williams did not explicitly state that she will retire after the US Open, which begins on August 29 in New York, she did say that she will try to win it and that she does not want a final moment of goodbye on the court.
Williams, who began her professional career in 1995, won her first singles title, the US Open, in 1999.
In 2002 she won her maiden Roland Garros and her first Wimbledon title.
Serena Williams has won the Australian Open seven times, another seven Wimbledon times, six US Opens and three Roland Garros.