In an article in Vogue, the 23-time Grand Slam winner said that although she would try to win the US Open, it was time for her to move “in a different direction”.
Williams posted on Instagram a photo of her on the cover of Vogue titled: “Serena’s Farewell…I’m So Bad at Goodbyes”.
“This is always a hard time when you love something so much. Oh my God, I enjoy tennis. But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mother, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different but exciting Serena. I will be enjoying these next few weeks.”
She played her first singles match in over a year at Wimbledon in June, losing to French side Harmony Tan. After that, she hinted that she could play at home in the US Open, which begins on August 29.
However, in the article, Williams said, “I’ve never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use this word, which means something specific and very important.” For a community of people. Probably the best word to describe what I do is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m developing away from tennis, toward things that matter to me.”
“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. I don’t know if I would be ready to win New York. But I will try.”
Since losing her professional debut in September 1995, Williams has become the dominant force in women’s tennis for the past 30 years.
Along with her older sister Venus, the two Williams sisters changed the sport, as she used to win major slams in both singles and doubles tennis.
At the time of writing, Serena has won 73 singles titles, 23 doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles including 39 Grand Slam titles – 23 singles titles, 14 doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles. It is one of the four Grand Slam singles titles behind the record set by Australian Margaret Court.
When CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked her earlier this year if she still wanted to beat the Court number, she replied, “I should have had it, really, I should have it — I’ve had many opportunities to get it. But I am. I shall not give up, to answer your question.”
She spoke about this later in Vogue, saying, “I know there’s fan fiction that I might have hooked up with Margaret that day in London, then maybe break her record in New York, and then at the trophy party, say, ‘See you! “I get it. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for a celebratory, final moment on the court. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the worst in the world.”
The four-time Olympic gold medalist has won more than $94.5 million in career prize money, more than any other athlete.
Off court, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in 2016, giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
And the focus on her young family, as well as her interests away from tennis, is why she decided to walk away from the game that changed her forever.
“Believe me, I’ve never wanted to choose between tennis and family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Williams explained. “If I were a young man, I wouldn’t write this because I would have been there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.
“I would probably be more Tom Brady if I had this opportunity. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I love every second of my Olympia pregnancy. I was one of those pesky women who adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to Hospital – although things get complicated on the other side. I almost did the impossible: a lot of people don’t realize I was two months pregnant when I won the 2017 Australian Open. But I’m 41 this month, and something has to come.”
The star also admitted that she does not like to think about her legacy.
“I get asked about it a lot, and I never really know what to say exactly. But I like to think that thanks to the opportunities I have, the players feel that they can be themselves on the court. They can play aggressively. They pump their fists. They can be strong but beautiful.” They can wear whatever they want, say whatever they want, kick and be proud of everything.
“Over the years, I hope people will think I’m a symbol of something bigger than tennis.”
CNN’s Amy Widiat contributed to this report.
“Prone to fits of apathy. Introvert. Award-winning internet evangelist. Extreme beer expert.”