Tennis star Serena Williams announced her retirement in a Vogue cover story on Aug. 9. She is leaving the game on her own terms after a monumental career.
Williams is a four-time Olympic gold medalist and has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles, more than any player in the Open Era. She also has won 14 major women’s doubles titles, all with her sister Venus Williams.
She has won over $94.5 million in career prize money, more than any other female athlete.
Williams discussed the difficulty of the decision and the meaning of retirement for female athletes in her story for Vogue, pointing out the frustration of double standards in sports. If she were a man, she said, then she would not have to give up the game she loves for a family.
Despite this, Williams does not resent her womanhood and talks about her love of being pregnant, and the love she has for her 5-year-old daughter Olympia. Nothing is a sacrifice when it comes to Olympia.
“I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final,” Williams said in the Vogue cover “I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression.“These days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter.”
She praises Australian tennis player Ashleigh Barty and Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki for retiring with a feeling of relief in her Vogue article.
“I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain,” Williams said in the Vogue cover. “I don’t know how I’m going to be able to look at this magazine when it comes out, knowing that this is it, the end of a story that started in Compton, California, with a little Black girl who just wanted to play tennis.”
She talks about the meaning of a legacy in the article, saying that she never knows how to respond when asked about her own, but she hopes she can be remembered as a symbol of something bigger than tennis. She wants to transcend the sport, like Billie Jean, whom Williams admires for pioneering gender equality in all sports.
As for now, she hopes her career can inspire female athletes to play proudly and with aggression.
She ends her retirement announcement in a bittersweet manner, thanking her supporters for the career she was able to have.
“I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment,” she said in the Vogue cover. “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.”
The world is going to miss one of the greatest tennis players of all time.