American tennis great Serena Williams has announced her retirement from the sport in an opinion piece overnight, teasing that the “countdown has begun” for her on-court career. Throughout her long career, Williams has earned 23 grand slam singles titles and 14 grand slam doubles titles alongside her sister, Venus Williams.
“I have never liked the word retirement,” she wrote. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
Williams is hoping to expand her small family after giving birth to Alexis Olympia in 2017. The 40-year-old also sits at the helm of her capitalist company Serena Ventures. “I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she continued. “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.”
Williams turned professional at the age of 14 in 1995 and won her very first grand slam title at the US Open in 1999. She has enjoyed one of the longest careers in the sport, sitting just behind her 42-year-old sister. Tennis has seen a mass exodus of famed athletes in recent years including wheelchair champion Dylan Alcott, 26-year-old Australian star Ashleigh Barty and 32-year-old Danish player, Caroline Wozniacki.
“There is no happiness in this topic for me,” she wrote. “I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could 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.”
It is not known exactly when Williams will retire. She is currently competing at the US Open with many experts believing it may be her last tournament. She set the bar in talent and in style and we will miss Serena slamming forehands in a white tulle skirt.