It’s an end of an era for tennis champion Serena Williams, who recently announced that she will be retiring from the sport at the conclusion of the 2022 ATP season. Williams, arguably the greatest women’s tennis player ever to grace the courts, will leave an unmatched legacy for future generations to come.
“I have never liked the word retirement. 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 said recently in her interview with Vogue.
At the age of 40, the American revealed that her plans to end her career isn’t a matter of not being able – or willing – to play on, but rather to focus on her young family and having another child. At the time of writing, she will end her illustrious career with a total of 23 grand slam titles, one less than Australian Margaret Court.
That is, unless she can clinch a victory at the upcoming US Open. Whilst not in the greatest form of her life, if there is one player to produce a miraculous win, it’s Serena Williams.
“…I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me. 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,” she explained in her Vogue interview.
“The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams. But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually it’s extraordinary. But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resumé and building my family, I choose the latter.”
Williams made her professional tennis debut in 1995 at the Bell Challenge in Quebec; a tournament she was not eligible to compete in due to age-eligibility rules (she was only 14 years old) but one she was able to get around thanks to a wild-card entry. For the next 30 years, she became the most dominant force in women’s tennis.
She won her first grand slam title at the US Open in 1999, beating Switzerland’s Martina Hingis. She was just 17 years at the time. Three years later in 2002, she made her first No. 1 in the WTA ranking, two days after winning Wimbledon. She would go on to spend 319 weeks as world number one.
Now, at the coming of her retirement, Williams will have 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 titles. She is also a four-time Olympic gold medallist has won more than US$94.5 million (AU$135.4 million) in career prize money. An astonishing feat for any professional athlete to achieve.
Together with her sister Venus Williams, the duo transformed the sport of tennis, making it ‘cool’ and ‘fun’ for women to take part in, especially young girls. Their influence on the game has been documented tenfold, most recently in the Oscar-winning film, King Richard, which looks at how the tennis superstars rose to the top.
In retirement, Williams plans on raising her young family, and will most likely focus on firm, Serena Ventures, which owns more than 60+ startups.