Serena Williams, arguably the greatest tennis player male or female in the world, is ready to put her racket down.
In a new interview with Vogue, the 40-year-old Williams referred to retirement as the “hardest thing that I could ever imagine” and she’s ready to “evolve away from tennis.”
“I hate that I have to be at this crossroads,” she wrote. “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.”
Williams’ accolades are the stuff of legend. She has won 23 Grand Slam titles, the most by any woman in the Open Era and the second most in history behind Margaret Court’s 24. She has earned $94 million on the court, the most by a female player, and has the career Grand Slam as a singles competitor and in doubles.
She thought of a dream fan fantasy where she would tie Court’s record at Wimbledon in July and then break it in Queens, New York, at the U.S. Open but is satisfied knowing she’s ready to transition away from the game.
“I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”
Williams won her first singles match in over a year on Monday (August 8) at the Canadian Open after missing much of 2021 with a torn hamstring. She returned to singles play at Wimbledon earlier this year, losing in a first-round thriller to Harmony Tan.
“I guess there’s just a light at the end of the tunnel, I’m getting closer to the light, so lately that’s been it for me, can’t wait to get to that light,” Williams said Monday. “I love playing though, it’s amazing but I can’t do this forever so sometimes you just want to try your best to enjoy the moments and do the best that you can.”