Today, tennis fans everywhere let out a collective gasp when the news broke that Serena Williams is hanging up her racket and “evolving away from tennis.” In an interview with Vogue (where she stuns on the cover in Balenciaga alongside her daughter, Olympia), the superstar says the decision to walk away from the game she loves wasn’t easy. “It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” Williams said. “I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time, I’m ready for what’s next.” With a list of accomplishments that includes Olympic medals and 23 Grand Slam titles, Serena can walk away from the game with her head held high. But readers may have been surprised to learn that was Serena’s desire to grow her family played a major role in her decision.
While I’m not even in the same orbit as Serena, the behemoth who can hold her own in the same circles with other one-named celebs like Beyoncé, Rihanna and Oprah, I can relate to the heartfelt sentiment she shares in her interview. Being a tennis star is her identity. It’s why we’re even talking about her today in the first place. And giving that up, even if it is to take on motherhood, one of the most important jobs out there, can’t be easy.
Like Serena, I left my dream job as a Marketing Executive at a television network in 2010 to become a mother. But unlike her, it wasn’t entirely my choice. As a casualty of a corporate restructuring with few affordable childcare options, I reluctantly found myself among the stay-at-home mom set – a group I’d always vowed to never join. And while I learned to love having a front row seat to watch all of my children’s milestones, there were days I couldn’t help but feel a little lost. I’d gone from being known as a woman with a name, a title and an office to “that mom with the double stroller” at our neighborhood playground.
All too often, women are forced to choose between advancing their careers or jumping into motherhood with both feet. A supportive village and empathetic bosses can help. But the truth is, neither choice is easy, and neither is without consequences. The economic and emotional impact can be lasting. Today, I want to send a little love to my sister, Serena and all of the other women out there who are making difficult decisions to stand in their truth.