The greatest tennis player of all time and one of the greatest athletes of all time, Serena Jameka Williams, is retiring. Or as she put it “evolving away from tennis.” Whenever her final match at the upcoming U.S. Open is, the great champion will bid farewell in what will undoubtedly be an emotional moment.
Williams, in her own words to Vogue, talked about how difficult a decision this is, but the other things in her life demand more of her time and energy.
“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. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that 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.”
At 40 years of age, soon to be 41, there is nothing left for Williams to accomplish. She’s won an open era record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, 14 Grand Slam doubles titles, four Olympic gold medals. She’s been ranked No. 1 in the world for 319 weeks, including 168 consecutive weeks.
Serena Williams has just announced plans to retire after the U.S. Open.
➖ 73 Singles Titles
➖ 23 Grand Slam Singles titles
➖ 14 Grand Slam Doubles titles
➖ 4 Olympic Gold Medals
➖ $94M in prize money
A legend 🐐 pic.twitter.com/rt6a6RaqFl
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) August 9, 2022
Even though Williams has come to terms with her “evolution” you could sense some conflict in her. You don’t accomplish what she has without a serious competitive fire, and it’s hard to just turn that off.
“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.”
What’s next will be growing her family and continuing to expand her business empire. Serena Ventures has made investments in 16 so-called “unicorns.” Those are companies that are valued at more than $1 billion. Those investments include MasterClass, Tonal, Impossible Foods, Noom, and Esusu.
If Williams continues to shine as a venture capitalist, Serena Ventures might one day be on par with the Silicon Valley heavyweights .
Regardless, she has one more tournament to play.
It’s fitting that her last Grand Slam appearance will be at the place where she won her first. The U.S. Open in NYC. Williams’ home tournament. The bright light of Arthur Ashe stadium and the NYC crowd haven’t always been kind to her, though she’s won it six times.
But this year and in this moment she will almost assuredly have universal support as we say goodbye to the greatest of all time.