Serena Williams is preparing to say farewell to professional tennis after a 27-year career that included a record 23 Grand Slam victories, the most in the Open Era.
In an editorial penned for Vogue magazine’s September 2022 issue, Williams, 40, revealed that while she loved tennis, “she’s ready to move on to new things. ... It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” she wrote.
“I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next," Williams wrote. "Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try."
Williams is one Grand Slam away from tying Margaret Court's record of 24 and has been trying to reach that milestone since her last major title in 2017.
"I know there’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, “See ya!” I get that. It’s a good fantasy."
Williams is set to take on the Big Apple in the U.S. Open, which begins on August 29.
"I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst," she said. "But 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."
She did not commit to a retirement timeline.
Williams says her daughter Olympia, who is four years old, wants to have a baby sister and having to choose between tennis and a family is one of the toughest decisions she has faced.
"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," she said.
Williams credits Tiger Woods for helping her find her way back to the tennis court this spring.
According to her, he told her, “Serena, what if you just gave it two weeks? You don’t have to commit to anything. You just go out on the court every day for two weeks and give it your all and see what happens.”
Williams said a month later she gave the PGA star's plan a whirl and it "felt magical to pick up that racket again."