Serena Williams, one of the greatest athletes of all time, publicized that she is stepping away from professional tennis playing after her first win of the season, a two-set victory, at the National Bank Open. The 23-time grand slam singles champion mentioned family and business as reasons for her decision and has not yet given a fixed date for her retirement from the sport.
She told Vogue: “I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.” Williams, 40, revealed that a few years ago she started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm which she used to invest in various organizations. Soon after, she started a family by having her daughter Olympia. She said that she is reluctant to move on and feels sad, she doesn’t think it’s fair to have to choose between tennis and having a family. Williams wants to have another child and spend more time with her five-year-old and her husband Alexis Ohanian.
Over the course of a remarkable career spanning nearly three decades, Williams won her last Grand Slam in 2017. She said that there are people who will not recognize her as the GOAT (greatest of all time) because she fell short of the elusive all-time record of 24, held by Margaret Court. Williams admits that the record is meaningful but she showed up 23 times, and that’s extraordinary in itself.
On Tuesday, in a post on her Instagram page, she wrote: “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.” It is the end of an extraordinary story that began in Compton, California, with a young girl who just wanted to play tennis. Looking forward, Williams wants to create more business opportunities for women. She shared with Vogue, “Seventy-eight percent of our portfolio happens to be companies started by women and people of color, because that’s who we are. On the other hand, my husband is white, and it’s important to me to be inclusive of everyone. Serena Ventures has been an all-female business until recently, when we brought in our first guy—a diversity hire!”
Williams also stated that she does not like to think about her legacy, and would like to believe that she has paved the way for other woman athletes thanks to opportunities afforded to her. She stated: “I’d like to think that I went through some hard times as a professional tennis player so that the next generation could have it easier.”
While the first female African American tennis player knows the end of her amazing career is round the corner, she's savoring her time and staying in the moment. Serena thanked fans and acknowledged that she is going to miss the sport, “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.”