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LIFESTYLE

Serena Williams is preparing for her retirement after changing the game of tennis

“I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”

Without a doubt, Serena Williams revolutionized the world of tennis with her unique grip, technique, and personality. Following her sister Venus’ success, Serena changed race and gender norms in tennis in particular and the sports world in general. Her audacity, resilience, and amazing game have made her a cultural icon all over the world, and after years and years of growing success, she’s now planning her retirement on her own terms.

In an article written by Serena herself for Vogue, the tennis superstar expressed her wishes to expand her family following her daughter’s wishes to have a baby sister. For Serena, the idea of having to choose between family and her profession was never an option since she loves her craft so much, but reflecting on reality, now at 41, she realized that at this time it’s something she needs to consider, and transitioning from tennis to devote more precious time to expanding her family seems like the step she wants to take.

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“I have never liked the word retirement. [...] 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.”

In the same open letter, Serena explained that she secretly started a new business called Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm, but now she wants to focus and venture into expanding her family. Of course, this decision hasn’t been easy for her; on the contrary, it’s one of the toughest moments in her life to the point that before the article she had only discussed it with her therapist.

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“There is no happiness in this topic for me. 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.”

Serena moves on to retell her life story from the moment she first picked up a racket when she was no more than 18 months old (although her father always said she was 3 years old), and how she’s always loved the rush of competition and working hard to be the best at anything she did and keeps doing. For her, that anger or frustration when she couldn’t achieve something became “kind of the essence of being Serena: expecting the best from myself and proving people wrong.”

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During her first pregnancy, Serena worked until the very last moment, which was when she had to go to the hospital to give birth. As she puts it, “I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final.” Despite being extremely proud of that massive achievement this time feels different, and as she says, “if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.”

She returned to tennis this year after a seven-month break and intends to compete for the rest of 2022. Still, she has something very clear, she wants to expand her family, and that will be her priority. At the moment she doesn’t have a scheduled date for her retirement, or evolution as she wants to think about it, but she’s well aware that “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.”

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Although the tennis champion doesn’t like thinking about her legacy, we can all agree that she and her sister changed the norms of tennis as it existed a couple of decades ago and that thanks to them many things have changed for POC women in all sports, a legacy, if we may, worth remembering.

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