Tennis legend Serena Williams is set to wrap up her history-making career at the US Open. Since announcing she’s “evolving away from tennis” in the September issue of Vogue, the 23-time Grand Slam champion has been relatively quiet about her decision.
On the debut episode of the podcast Archetypes with Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex, Serena offered details on why she decided this was the right time to end her competitive career.
“I’ve struggled with it for a while. I’m going to be crying at everything. Don’t think I’m sad. It’s not sad tears. I’ve been doing this since I can remember. And I’m 40 years old now, so it’s like my whole entire being and my whole entire life has been for one purpose. So to not do that anymore, it’s exciting, right? I’m really looking forward to it,” Williams said. “I can’t wait to wake up one day and literally never have to worry about performing on such a high level and competing. I’ve actually never felt that. I’ve had a baby and I stopped and I’ve had injuries, but there was always somewhere in the back of my mind that it’s still a possibility. So for it to just be completely gone is, it’s new territory for me. Like I said, I’m happy about it, but it’s just also something that I’ve actually never experienced in my life.”
Meghan and Serena are close friends, so the four-time Olympic gold medalist had previously discussed her retirement with The Duchess and her husband Prince Harry. Meghan was able to relate her and Harry’s choice to step down from the royal family to Serena figuring out if now was the time to call it quits.
The seven-time Wimbledon champion wanted to just quietly walk away from the sport, but Meghan made it clear that the rest of us would not let that happen.
“You’re not going to do that. No one in the planet would let you do that. You are too loved,” The Duchess said. “What I’m most excited about is that the last hurrah will be at the U.S. Open because it’s home.”
In both the Vogue article and this conversation, Serena has told us how much she dislikes the word “retirement.” She chose to call it an evolution because that’s how she sees her next chapter.
“I do like the word evolution because I don’t like the word retirement. I don’t like it for me in this scenario because I will never retire from something that you absolutely love. I will always have some sort of involvement, it won’t be professionally, but I will always want to be involved in some way, shape or form in tennis,” the six-time US Open champion said. “I’m doing more business things. I really want to expand my family. I’ve been putting it off for so long. And as a woman, there’s only so long you can put that off.”
Interestingly enough, Serena also noted that she’s been competing so long, this is the first time she’s choosing her own career and future.
“Tennis was chosen for me and I loved that choice, I couldn’t have made a better choice, right? So I was really happy that that happened,” she said. “But now, for the first time in my entire life, I’m choosing to do something. And it’s hard because it’s something I’ve actually never done. I’ve always done something different, and I’ve always enjoyed it so much. But I’m making a different choice and one to stop doing what I love and to hopefully, have more kids and to focus on other things and other stuff that I want to do.”
Serena Williams will end her career at the 2022 US Open, which begins Monday, Aug. 29 and airs live on the ESPN Networks.