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Serena Williams says she plans to retire from tennis

A tennis player clenches her fist and yells
Serena Williams, shown at Wimbledon in June, wrote in Vogue, “I’ll be evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,”
(Alberto Pezzali / Associated Press)

Serena Williams doesn’t like the word “retirement.”

But, as she wrote in a column published by Vogue on Tuesday morning, “something has to give.”

In that column, the 23-time Grand Slam champion announced that her career as a tennis player will soon come to an end.

“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,” Williams wrote, as told to Rob Haskell. “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.”

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Williams did not say exactly when her retirement would begin but wrote in an Instagram post Tuesday, “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.” She is playing this week in an event in Toronto and indicated she intends to play in the U.S. Open later this month in New York.

Fans have watched Serena Williams grow up before their eyes. Now she is watching her daughter grow up while maintaining the drive to win. The balance isn’t so easy.

“There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction,” she said on Instagram. “That time is always hard when you love something so much. My goodness do I enjoy tennis. But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena.”

Williams grew up in Compton. She and her older sister Venus learned to play tennis on public courts with their father, Richard, as their coach. She has won Wimbledon and the Australian Open seven times each, along with six U.S. Open titles and three at the French Open. No one has won more Grand Slams in the Open era, and only Margaret Court has won more (24).

She won her most recent Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open, beating her sister in the finals. Serena Williams later revealed she was 20 weeks pregnant at the time. After giving birth to Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. in September of that year, Williams returned to Grand Slam tennis at the 2018 French Open and went on to finish runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2019.

A look at the prolific tennis career of Serena Williams, winner of 20 Grand Slam singles titles and 13 major doubles championships.

“I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me,” Williams wrote in Vogue. “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.”

She added: “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.”

VIDEO | 07:41
LA Times Today: Serena Williams’ legacy on and off the court

Watch L.A. Times Today at 7 p.m. on Spectrum News 1 on Channel 1 or live stream on the Spectrum News App. Palos Verdes Peninsula and Orange County viewers can watch on Cox Systems on channel 99.


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