New York Post
Sun 'sets' on Serena
Legendary career to end at US Open
Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champ Serena Williams is saying goodbye to tennis.
After seven Wimbledon and Australian Open titles a piece, six US Open trophies and three French Open crowns, Williams, 40, is officially retiring from the sport, she announced Tuesday.
However, she was reluctant to use the word “retirement,” which “doesn’t feel like a modern word to me,” she said.
Rather, the hard-hitting heroine said she will be “evolving” into a new, more personally enriched version of herself after playing in what will be her final US Open at Flushing Meadows in Queens later this month.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” said Williams in the September issue of Vogue, which made its digital debut this week.
In place of the game, Williams — who lost to 24-year-old player Harmony Tan at Wimbledon in June, but is set to play in a pre-US Open tournament in Toronto this week — plans to grow her family with husband and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, 39.
The couple, who tied the knot in November 2017, already share 4-year-old daughter Alexis Ohanian Jr., whom Williams often refers to by her middle name, Olympia.
The doe-eyed toddler posed on a sandy, sunset-lit beach alongside her muscle-bound mama for Vogue, playfully cloaking herself with the lengthy train of Williams’ cyan blue, hip-hugging Balenciaga gown for the cover shot.
“Alexis and I have been trying to have another child,” Williams revealed, adding that her daughter’s nightly prayer request is to be a big sister to a baby girl.
While pregnant with Olympia back in 2017, the match marvel deftly bested opponents on the tennis court and even took home her seventh Australian Open title — a challenge she “adored,” but one that made her C-section delivery, after which she experienced a near-fatal pulmonary embolism, “complicated.”
And despite the impressiveness of winning while with child, Williams isn’t interesting in repeating the feat.
“I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete,” she confessed. “I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
But the decision to put down her racquet hasn’t been an easy one. In fact, Williams said walking away from court will be “the hardest thing” she’s done.
“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,” Williams said. “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.”
The Compton, Calif., native said that as a female athlete, she feels the pull between work life and home life. It’s a struggle, she said, that most of her male counterparts will likely never have to endure.
“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she asserted. “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,” she added, referring to the 45year-old NFL quarterback legend, who retired after 22 seasons in February and returned to football 40 days later.
But, alas, as a woman just weeks shy of her 41st birthday on Sept. 26, Williams said that the shaking realization that her tennis days are over has been a hard truth to face.
“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,” revealed Williams, who remembers first picking up a racket to mimic big sister Venus Williams, 42, on
the hard court at 18 months old.
What’s in her future
Williams even has struggled to talk about retiring with her husband, mother Oracene Price, 70, and father Richard Williams, 80. (Richard’s work as the instructing force behind her and Venus’ success was depicted by Will Smith in the Oscar-nominated movie “King Richard.”)
“I think the only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist,” she said. “I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad.”
And although she’s saying a tearful goodbye, Williams credits the game — which has earned her a net worth of approximately $260 million — with shaping her entire life. “This sport has given me so much. I love to win. I love the battle. I love to entertain . . . I love the performance aspect of it,” said Williams.
And when she’s not busy raising her tot, Williams, who’s been dabbling in venture capitalism, plans to help entrepreneurs of color and businesspeople alike finance their dreams.
“In my own life, the balance has been slowly shifting toward Serena Ventures,” she said of her eponymously titled firm.
Through the imprint, which was founded in 2014 and is staffed by six females and one male (”a diversity hire!”), she’s provided the seed-money for billion-dollar brands such as MasterClass, Tonal, Impossible Foods and Noom.
“Seventy-eight percent of our portfolio happens to be companies started by women and people of color, because that’s who we are,” boasted Williams, who’s striving to ensure that her legacy will consist of more than just her athletic talents.
“I hope that people come to think of me as symbolizing something bigger than tennis,” she said.