23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams says ta-ta to tennis.
Williams, 40, is officially retiring from the sport after seven Wimbledon and seven Australian Open titles, six US Open trophies and three French Open crowns, she announced on Tuesday.
However, she was reluctant to use the word “retirement,” a term she feels is outdated.
Rather, the hard-hitting heroine said she will “evolve” into a new, personally enriched version of herself after playing her final US Open at Flushing Meadows in Queens later this month.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving from tennis into other things that are important to me,” Williams told Vogue’s September issue, which made its digital debut this week.
Instead of the game, Williams — who lost to 24-year-old Harmony Tan at Wimbledon in June but won a match in Toronto on Monday at the pre-US Open tournament — plans to join her family, with husband and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, 39
The couple, who tied the knot in November 2017, already share 4-year-old daughter Alexis Ohanian Jr., whom Williams often refers to by her middle name, Olympia.
The doe-eyed toddler posed next to her muscular mother for Vogue on a sandy beach at sunset, playfully veiling herself in the long train of William’s blue, waist-hugging Balenciaga dress for the cover photo.
“Alexis and I were trying to have another child,” Williams revealed, adding that her daughter’s nightly prayer request is to be a big sister to a little girl.
While pregnant with the 2017 Olympics, the match prodigy deftly defeated opponents on the tennis court and even took home her seventh Australian Open title – a challenge she “adored” but one that led to her C-section birth after she experienced a near-fatal pulmonary embolism, “complicated”.
And despite the impression of winning with a child, Williams isn’t keen on repeating the feat.
“As an athlete, I definitely don’t want to get pregnant again,” she admitted. “I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
But the decision to put down her racquet was not an easy one. In fact, Williams said getting out of court, which she did, will be “the hardest thing.”
“For me there is no happiness in this subject. I know it’s not customary to say this, but I feel a lot of pain,” Williams said. “I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep telling myself I wish it would be easy for me, but it’s not. I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over , but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
A native of Compton, California, she confessed that as an athlete, she feels the pull between work and personal life. It’s a struggle, she said, that most of her male counterparts probably never have to endure.
“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she said. “If I were a man I wouldn’t be writing this because I would be out there playing and winning while my wife does the physical labor to expand our family.”
“Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity,” she added, referring to the 45-year-old NFL quarterback legend, who retired in February after 22 seasons and returned to football 40 days later .
But sadly, as a woman just weeks from turning 41 on September 26, Williams said the harrowing realization that her tennis days are over was a harsh truth.
“I was reluctant to admit that I had to stop playing tennis. It’s like a taboo subject. It comes up and I start to cry,” revealed Williams, who recalls picking up a racquet for the first time when he was 18 months to mimic big sister Venus Williams, 42, on the hard court.
The revered athlete even struggled to speak about retirement with her husband, mother Oracene Price, 70, and father Richard Williams, 80. (Richard’s work as a teacher behind her and the success of Venus were portrayed by Will Smith, 53, in the Oscar-nominated film King Richard.)
“I think the only person I really went there with is my therapist,” she said. “I can’t even have that conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat and start to cry.”
And though she tearfully bids her farewell, Williams credits the game — which has netted her around $260 million in net worth — for shaping her entire life.
“This sport has given me so much. i love to win i love the fight I love to entertain… I love the performance aspect of it,” Williams said.
“To me, that’s the essence of Serena: expecting the best in myself and proving people wrong,” she explained. “There were so many games I won because something made me angry or someone counted me out. That drove me.”
But now she’s happy to let the joys of motherhood serve as her daily motivation.
“Tennis has always felt like a sacrifice,” Williams said, adding, “For me, nothing is a sacrifice when it comes to the Olympics.”
“It just all makes sense. I want to teach her how to tie her shoes, how to read, where babies come from and about God,” the celebrity mom continued. “What she likes, I like.”
And when she’s not busy raising her child, venture capitalist Williams plans to help entrepreneurs of color fund their dreams.
“In my own life, the balance has slowly shifted towards Serena Ventures,” she said of her eponymous company.
Through Imprint, founded in 2014 and made up of six women and one man (“A Diversity Hire!”), she has provided seed capital for multi-billion dollar brands such as MasterClass, Tonal, Impossible Foods and Noom.
“Seventy-eight percent of our portfolio are companies founded by women and people of color because that’s who we are,” boasted Williams, who strives to ensure her legacy consists of more than just her athletic talents.
“I hope people see me as a symbol of something bigger than tennis,” she said. Aside from her off-court goals, Williams pats herself on the back for paving a path for the next generation of tennis girls to “play with aggression” and “kick butt” without shame or criticism.
“I want it to be like this: Serena is This And she is the and she was a great tennis player and she won those slams,” Williams said.
She also conceded fans are keeping their fingers crossed and hoping she matches Australian tennis legend Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles at Flushing Meadows in a matter of weeks.
“It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for a ceremonial, last moment on the pitch,” she said, before thanking her supporters for their unyielding love.
“I’m terrible at goodbyes, the worst in the world. But please know that I am more grateful to you than I can ever put into words. They’ve carried me to so many wins and so many trophies,” Williams said.
“I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I will miss you.”
https://nypost.com/2022/08/09/serena-williams-explains-why-shes-retiring-now/ Serena Williams Explains Why She’s Now Retiring