One of the greatest athletes in the world is hanging up her racket. (Is that what you do with a racket? I’m not up on my sports storage lingo). In a cover story for the September issue of Vogue, sports icon Serena Williams, 40, announced that she’s retiring from tennis. The seven-time Wimbledon champion has 23 Grand Slam titles and four Olympic gold medals — but now she wants to step away from the net and focus on her family.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” Williams wrote in a Vogue essay explaining her decision. “But I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. 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.”
Williams wants to spend more time with both her husband, Alexis Ohanian, and their 4-year-old daughter, Olympia — plus they’re hoping to expand the family, with Olympia eager for a sibling.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” Williams wrote. “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.”
Williams’ first pregnancy was a difficult one. She nearly died after giving birth to Olympia and developing a blood clot in her lungs. She had to undergo several surgeries, spend time in the hospital, and eventually take six weeks of bed rest.
But leaving tennis doesn’t necessarily means Williams will slow down. She considers her imminent retirement more of an “evolution,” and will continue working on her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which has invested in companies including MasterClass, Noom, and Impossible Foods.
If you’re sad about losing one of the greatest tennis players to ever live, you’ve got one last chance to catch her on the court: Williams will be competing in the US Open later this month. If she wins (and something tells me she’s got a good shot), she’ll tie Margaret Court’s all-time record for Grand Slam singles titles.