Serena Williams Parts with tennis on her own terms.

Serena Williams and Alexis Olympia Ohanian for Vouge September 2022

But not without making history again, first. 

In a post shared on Instagram by Williams, the tennis legend suggests that she will be moving away from playing tennis, and focusing on other parts of her life that don’t involve the sport. “There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction,” Serena writes on Instagram. “I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals, and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena.” “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks. 🥰” 

Serena Williams, seen here during the Australian Open in February 2021

The next few weeks for Williams include what’s believed to be her last U.S. open performance, held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. On opening night, Tuesday, August 29th, ESPN reported a record number of first-day viewers, coming in at an astonishing 1.7 million watchers worldwide. A  279% increase from last year and a 40% jump from the previous high in 2019.

Serena Williams at the 2022 U.S. Open on Sept. 2 in New York City

Over the course of her 27 years long career, Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles, the achievement of winning all four major championships in one discipline in the same calendar year, 367 major match wins, 73 career titles, 6 US Open titles, and more. The tennis legend has also won four Olympic medals and has spent 319 weeks as the number one tennis player in the world, according to Sports Center. Former First Lady Michelle Obama wrote the 40-year-old legend an affectionate farewell on Twitter, saying “How lucky were we to be able to watch a young girl from Compton grow up to become one of the greatest athletes of all time. I’m proud of you my friend — and I can’t wait to see the lives you continue to transform with your talents.”

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama stands with Serena Williams as she takes part in a "Let's Move" tennis clinic at the U.S. Open to promote physical activity for kids, in New York on September 9, 2011.

Although Williams’s career has proven that she is one of the greatest athletes of all time, winning the Australian Open final while eight weeks pregnant back in 2017,  she vulnerably shared that the idea of retiring brings her no joy; she feels cheated at having to stand at a crossroads between her personal and professional desires. Williams wrote, “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. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.” Williams and her husband Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, have a beautiful four-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, and have been trying for a second. “I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out,” the tennis star admits.

Williams may be two feet out of tennis now, but her legacy has left footprints on the world, and on black women in particular. As a final farewell, Gatorade, who has been sponsoring Williams since 2009, and Beyonce teamed up to create a short narrative film titled “For Serena with Love.” The narration reads in a poetry-like fashion, “To be so in love with your identity, that your very essence can not be contained. To love that sound of your own voice and the way you move. To cherish every muscle and every curve your body exhibits. To feel like a queen, unapologetically, with the crown indefinitely. To always love being a proud Black woman, a parent, a dreamer. To always love being you – a whole you, the real you. To always love you.” We will always love you, Serena!

Watch “For Serena with Love” here.

Charlotte Pinc

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