Tennis great Serena Williams has confirmed her decision to retire from the sport, calling it a “reluctant” decision and “the hardest thing I could imagine”.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m moving away from tennis, into other things that are important to me,” she said in an essay for Vogue published Tuesday. “I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
Williams, 40, said she plans to compete at the US Open which kicks off later this month in New York.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion said she wants to focus on her family, including having another child with husband Alexis Ohanian. She also said she feels professionally motivated by her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which she started a few years ago.
“I absolutely do not want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I have to be two-footed in tennis or two-footed,” she said. “I hesitated to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to stop playing tennis.”
Williams shared that she was two months pregnant with her daughter, Olympia, when she won the Australian Open in 2017.
“I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I performed through postpartum depression,” she said.
“But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter,” added Williams.
Williams hinted at her retirement plans on Monday after beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz at the National Bank Open in Canada. It was her first singles win in over a year.
Williams credited the advice of golfer Tiger Woods last spring with motivating her to return to the course after taking a seven-month hiatus.
She described a “magical” feeling when she picked up a racket.
“And I was good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether I should play Wimbledon and the US Open after that,” she said. “Unfortunately, I was not ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I will try.