Serena Williams announces she will be “evolving away from tennis” after the upcoming US Open

In an article in Vogue, the 23-time Grand Slam champion said that while she will try to win the US Open, it is time to “go in a different direction”.

“There comes a time in life when we must choose to go in a different direction,” Williams posted on Instagram with a picture of herself on the cover of Vogue with the caption, “Serena’s Farewell…I’ m terrible at goodbyes .’

“This time is always tough when you love something so much. Gosh, I enjoy tennis. But now the countdown has started. I need to focus on being a mother, my spiritual goals and finally a different but just plain exciting Serena to discover. I will enjoy these next few weeks.”

She played her first singles match in over a year at Wimbledon in June, losing to France’s Harmony Tan. After that, she hinted that she could play on home soil at the US Open, which starts on August 29.

In the article, however, Williams said, “I’ve never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I thought of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use this word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Perhaps the best word to describe what I intend to do is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m progressing from tennis to other things that are important to me.”

She continued: “Unfortunately this year I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon. And I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win New York. But I will try it.”

Since losing her pro debut in September 1995, Williams has become the most dominant force in women’s tennis over the past 30 years.

Along with their old sister Venus, the Williams sisters changed the sport and made it a habit to win Grand Slams in both singles and doubles tennis.

At the time of writing, Serena has won 73 singles titles, 23 doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles, including 39 Grand Slam titles – 23 singles titles, 14 doubles titles and two mixed doubles titles. She is one Grand Slam singles title behind Australia’s Margaret Court’s all-time record.

When asked by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour earlier this year if she still wants to break Court’s record, she replied: “I should have had it, really, I should have had it – I’ve had a lot of opportunities to have it. But I’m not giving up to answer your question.”

She later addressed this in Vogue, saying, “I know there’s a fan fantasy that I tied up Margaret that day in London, then maybe broke her record in New York, and then at the awards ceremony I said, ‘ See you!’ I get that. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for a ceremonial, final moment on the pitch. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the worst in the world.

The four-time Olympic gold medalist has over $94.5 million in career earnings, more than any other female athlete.

Away from court, Williams announced her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in 2016 and gave birth to their daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.

And because she is focused on her young family and her interests outside of tennis, she decides to retire from the game that changed her forever.

“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think that’s fair,” Williams said. “If I were a man I wouldn’t be writing this because I would be out there playing and winning while my wife does the physical work to expand our family.

“Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman and I’ve loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those pesky women who loved being pregnant and working until the day I had to report to the hospital – although things got very complicated on the other side. And I almost did the impossible: A lot of people don’t know that I was two months pregnant. I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I’ll be 41 this month and I’ve got to do something.

The star also admitted that she doesn’t like to think about her heritage.

“I get asked about it a lot and I never quite know what to say. But I would like to believe that thanks to the opportunities I am given, female athletes feel like they can be themselves on the pitch. They can play with aggression and pump their fists. You can be strong and yet beautiful. They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick ass and be proud of anything.

“As the years go by, I hope people see me as a symbol of something bigger than tennis.”

CNN’s Amy Woodyatt contributed to this report.