One of the most dominant athletes in the history of American sports is retiring. Tennis legend Serena Williams announced she will hang up her racquet after the 2022 U.S. Open, which runs from late August to early September. Williams announced her plans in Vogue.
Williams has 23 Grand Slam women’s singles championships, which is the most of the Open Era, and only one behind Margaret Court’s all-time record. She has dominated her sport for more than two decades. She won her first Grand Slam at the 1999 U.S. Open as a 17-year-old when she memorably upset 18-year-old Martina Hingis in the final. Williams’ most recent major came when she won the 2017 Australian Open while two weeks pregnant with her daughter Olympia.
“It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine,” wrote in Vogue on her decision to retire from tennis. “I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. 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.”
Williams captured the heart of the country when she first broke out with her sister Venus Williams in the late 90s. The Williams sisters have won 14 major women’s doubles titles. Serena has won a gold medal in singles at the 2012 London Olympics, and three gold medals in doubles with Venus at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and in London in 2012.
Williams has a career record of 855–153, good for a 84.8 percent winning percentage.
She is the highest-earning woman athlete of all-time. She walks away from the game at age-40 to put greater focus on her family and business interests. From her Vogue story:
I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this 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. 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. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family.
Williams’ combination of dominance and longevity makes her truly one of the greatest athletes ever. Sports fans will have one more chance to watch her compete at the 2022 U.S. Open before she moves onto the next phase of her life.