Serena Williams, the most decorated tennis player of the open era, has hinted at her retirement after the US Open.
A day after winning her first singles match in 430 days at the Canadian Open, the legendary 23-time Grand Slam winner confirmed she was “getting away” from the sport in an interview with Vogue Magazine.
Williams, who is one Grand Slam title away from equaling Margaret Court’s all-time record, looks set for one last chance to match that blow at Flushing Meadows.
With Williams likely to call time on a spectacular career after one last outing at his home slam, here are 10 key quotes from his interview with Vogue.
Reluctance to walk away
“I was hesitant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to stop playing tennis. Alexis, my husband and I barely talked about it, it’s like a taboo subject.
“It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It’s rising, I have an uncomfortable lump in my throat and I’m starting to cry. The only person I’m with there really went, he’s my therapist.”
“I’ve never liked the word ‘retirement’. It doesn’t sound like a modern word to me. I thought of it as a transition, but I want to be sensitive to how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.
“Perhaps the best word to describe what I do is ‘evolution’. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, into other things that are important to me.”
No joy to reach a “crossroads”
“Ashleigh Barty was world number one when she left the sport in March, and I think she felt really ready to move on. Caroline Wozniacki, who is one of my best friends, felt a feeling of relief when she retired in 2020.
“Congratulations to these people, but I’ll be honest. There’s no happiness in this subject for me. I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a lot of pain.
“I hate this. I hate having to be at this crossroads. I keep thinking to myself, I wish it was easy for me, but it’s not. I’m torn. I don’t want that it’s over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
Key to family life
“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think that’s fair. If I was a guy I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be over there playing and to earn while my wife did the physical labor of expanding our family.
“Maybe I would be more of a Tom Brady if I had this opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a woman and I loved every second of being pregnant.
“A lot of people don’t realize I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I turn 41 this month, and something has to give.”
Want the court file
“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT [greatest of all time] because I haven’t surpassed Margaret Court’s record of 24 Grand Slam titles, which she achieved before the Open Era that began in 1968.
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t want this record. Of course I do.”
Pride of an “extraordinary” record
“If I’m in a Grand Slam final, then yes, I’m thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and it didn’t help.
“From my point of view, I should have had more than 30 Grand Slams. I had my chances after giving birth.
“But I didn’t make it. ‘I should have, I should have, I could’. I didn’t show up like I should or could. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine.
“This spring I felt like getting back on the court for the first time in seven months. I was talking to Tiger Woods, who is a friend, and told him that I needed his advice on my playing career. tennis. He was adamant that I would be a beast, like him!”
Magical return to Wimbledon
“It was magical to pick up a racquet. And I was good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether I should play Wimbledon and then the US Open.”
“I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win New York, but I’ll try.”
“Unfortunately, I was not ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I will try. And the preparatory tournaments will be fun.
“I know there’s a fantasy among the fans that I could have equaled Margaret that day in London and then maybe beat her record in New York and then at the trophy ceremony, say : “See you soon!” But I’m not looking for a ceremony, a last moment on the pitch.”
Inspirational female athletes
“I would like to think that because of me, female athletes can be themselves. They can play aggressively and pump their fists.
“They can wear whatever they want and say whatever they want, kick some ass and be proud of it all.”