Serena Williams Announces She’s Done Playing Tennis In Beautiful Vogue Essay: Not Retirement… ‘Evolution’
Serena Williams is gearing up to make some of her final swings.
The tennis megastar admitted she is ready to trade in her racket for rattles in a beautiful cover essay for the September issue of Vogue, and wow — we’re feeling lots of emotions! The 40-year-old revealed her decision in words just as elegant as her stunning blue, flowing gown (which you can see below):
“I’ve been reluctant to admit that I have to move on from playing tennis. It’s like a taboo topic. It comes up, and I start to cry. I think the only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist.”
She added that for her, it’s more of a change in direction than a stopping point:
“I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. 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.”
So well said! It’s sad to think that she’s getting ready to move beyond such a pivotal part of her life, but it shows how all of her hard work and dedication has allowed her to get to this point. But not without some of her own sorrows:
“Praise to these people, but 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. I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next. 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. This sport has given me so much. I love to win. I love the battle. I love to entertain. I’m not sure every player sees it that way, but I love the performance aspect of it — to be able to entertain people week after week. Some of the happiest times in my life were spent waiting in that hallway in Melbourne, and walking out into Rod Laver Arena with my earphones in and trying to stay focused and drown out the noise but still feeling the energy of the crowd. Night matches in Arthur Ashe Stadium at Flushing Meadows. Hitting an ace on set point.”
Sometimes, the hardest decisions are the ones that need to be made the most. As for why the world champion is shifting course, she revealed that being a mother to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, has had a profound impact on her and husband Alexis Ohanian, who look forward to being able to expand their family:
“In the last year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family. I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
She added that hearing her baby girl yearn for a sister made something in her mind change focus:
“My daughter, Olympia, who turns five this month, and I were on our way to get her a new passport before a trip to Europe. We’re in my car, and she’s holding my phone, using an interactive educational app she likes. This robot voice asks her a question: What do you want to be when you grow up? She doesn’t know I’m listening, but I can hear the answer she whispers into the phone. She says, ‘I want to be a big sister.’ Olympia says this a lot, even when she knows I’m listening. Sometimes before bed, she prays to Jehovah to bring her a baby sister. (She doesn’t want anything to do with a boy!) I’m the youngest of five sisters myself, and my sisters are my heroes, so this has felt like a moment I need to listen very carefully to.”
While the iconic athlete “never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” she revealed she’s ready to make that decision, also in part due to her company Serena Ventures:
“We’re a small but growing firm of six people scattered between Florida, where I mainly live, Texas, and California. I started investing nine years ago, and I really fell in love with early stage, whether it’s pre-seed funding, where you’re investing in just an idea, or seed, where the idea has already been turned into a product. I wrote one of the very first checks for MasterClass. It’s one of 16 unicorns — companies valued at more than $1 billion — that Serena Ventures has funded, along with Tonal, Impossible Foods, Noom, and Esusu, to name a few.”
Whatever the legend’s next move is, we know it will be great! You can read the full cover story HERE! And tell us, what are your reactions to Serena’s non-retirement retirement, Perezcious readers? Let us know in the comments (below)!
[Images via Serena Williams/Instagram & Wimbledon/YouTube]