In The Know

Serena Williams says she plans to move ‘away from tennis’

Serena Williams waves as she leaves the court at Wimbledon.
Alberto Pezzali/The Associated Press
Serena Williams waves as she leaves the court at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams is hanging up her racket, announcing her retirement and saying she’s “evolving away from tennis.”

The 23-time Grand Slam champion took to the pages of Vogue on Tuesday to tell fans she was stepping away from the sport in order to focus on growing her family.

“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” Williams, 40, said.  

“If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family,” added Williams, mom to a 4-year-old daughter, Olympia, with husband Alexis Ohanian.

“Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity,” she said.

“Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia,” she told Vogue.

“And I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don’t realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.”

Noting she’s never been a fan of the word “retirement,” Williams said she’s approaching exiting life as a professional tennis player 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,” she said.

“Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is ‘evolution.’”

Williams said in addition to her family, her focus going forward will be her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures.

Williams recalled being told a few years ago by the female CEO of a security company that less than 2 percent of all venture capital money went to women.

“I figured that she misspoke. I thought, There’s no way that 98 percent of that capital is going to men. I approached her afterward, and she confirmed it,” Williams said of the exchange.

“I kind of understood then and there that someone who looks like me needs to start writing the big checks. Sometimes like attracts like,” Williams said.

“Men are writing those big checks to one another, and in order for us to change that, more people who look like me need to be in that position, giving money back to themselves.”

Williams admitted there’s “no happiness” for her in the topic of retirement, expressing internal conflict about whether to say goodbye to the sport she started playing at the age of 3.

“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. I don’t know how I’m going to be able to look at this magazine when it comes out, knowing that this is it, the end of a story that started in Compton, California, with a little Black girl who just wanted to play tennis,” she told Vogue.

“This sport has given me so much,” she said.

Tags Alexis Ohanian Serena Williams
See all Hill.TV See all Video