Serena Williams announces she will ‘be away from tennis’ after upcoming US Open

In a Vogue article, the 23-time Grand Slam winner said that although she will try to win at the US Open, it’s time for her to go “in a different direction”.

“There comes a time in life when we have to decide to go in a different direction,” Williams posted on Instagram along with a picture of herself on the cover of Vogue with the caption: ‘Serena’s Farewell…I’m terrible at goodbyes.’

“That moment is always difficult when you love something so much. My God, I love tennis. But now the countdown has started. I have to focus on being a mother, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different Serena, but just exciting.. I will savor these next few weeks.

She played her first singles match in over a year at Wimbledon in June, losing to France’s Harmony Tan. Afterward, she hinted that she could play at home at the US Open, which kicks off on August 29.

However, in the article, Williams said: “I’ve never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t sound like a modern word to me. I thought of it as a transition, but I want to be sensitive to how I use this word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Perhaps the best word to describe what I do is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I evolve away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me.”

She continued, “Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win New York. But I’ll try.”

Since losing her professional debut in September 1995, Williams has become the most dominant force in women’s tennis over the past 30 years.

Along with her older sister Venus, the Williams sisters transformed the sport, making a habit of winning Grand Slams in both singles and doubles.

At the time of writing, Serena has won 73 career 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. She is one Grand Slam singles title behind the all-time record held by Australian Margaret Court.

When asked by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour earlier this year if she still wanted to break Court’s record, she replied: “I should have had it, really, I should have – I had many opportunities to have it. But I’m not giving up, to answer your question.”

She later spoke about it in Vogue, saying: “I know there’s a fan fantasy that I could have equalized Margaret that day in London and then maybe beat her record in New York, then during the trophy ceremony, say: “See you soon! I understand. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for a ceremony, a last moment on the pitch. I suck at goodbyes, the worst in the world.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist has earned more than $94.5 million in career prize money, more than any other female athlete.

Away from court, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in 2016, giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

And focusing on her young family, as well as her interests away from tennis, is why she decides to step away from the game that has changed her forever.

“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think that’s fair,” Williams explained. “If I was a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife did the physical labor to expand our family.

“Maybe I would be more of a Tom Brady if I had this opportunity. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those boring women who loved being pregnant and working until the day I had to show up at the hospital — although things got super complicated on the other side. And I almost did the impossible: a lot a lot of people don’t realize I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m 41 this month, and something has got to give.”

The star also admitted that she doesn’t like to think about her heritage.

“I get asked a lot of questions about it and I never quite know what to say. But I’d like to think that with the opportunities I’ve been given, female athletes feel like they can be themselves on they can play aggressively, they can be strong but beautiful, they can wear what they want and say what they want, kick ass and be proud of everything.

“Over the years, I hope people come to think that I symbolize something bigger than tennis.”

CNN’s Amy Woodyatt contributed to this report.

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