Chevron icon It indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options. HOMEPAGE

Serena Williams announces she's retiring from tennis, saying that as a woman, she must choose between 'tennis and a family'

serena williams waves with the crowd behind her
Serena Williams waves to the crowd after victory during a second round match of the Rogers Cup on August 7, 2019 in Toronto, Canada.
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

  • Serena Williams announced on Tuesday that she is retiring from tennis.
  • The 23-time Grand Slam winner wrote in Vogue that she will retire after playing at the US Open.
  • "I started a family. I want to grow that family," she wrote.

Serena Williams — one of tennis' all-time greats — is retiring.

In a column for Vogue, the legendary tennis star announced her retirement from the sport in order to focus more on growing her family. But she said she'll still play in this year's US Open.

"I have never liked the word retirement," Williams said. "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."

Williams said she has made the decision because she wants to focus on her family life and growing her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures.

"I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me," she added. "I started a family. I want to grow that family.

"I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don't think it's fair. 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."

Williams dropped a huge hint on Monday that she was preparing to retire from tennis.

After recording her first singles win in over 14 months in the first round of the National Bank Open in Toronto, the 40-year-old told reporters that she could "see a light at the end of the tunnel."

Asked what that light was, she responded:


"I love playing, though. It's amazing, but I can't do this for ever," she said. "Sometimes you just want to try your best and enjoy the moments and do the best that you can."

Serena Williams holds trophy and her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian
Serena Williams celebrates with her daughter Alexis Olympia after winning the final match against Jessica Pegula at ASB Tennis Centre in Auckland, New Zealand, on January 12, 2020.
Hannah Peters/Getty Images

One of the most successful tennis players of all time

Williams is the most successful female tennis player of the Open era and second most successful of all-time having won 23 Grand Slam titles.

Only Australia's Margaret Court has won more (24).

But the American hasn't won a slam since the 2017 Australian Open and has since spent more and more time away from the court due to personal reasons and injury.

In April 2017, she revealed that she was 20 weeks pregnant and would miss the remainder of the season. She returned in 2018 and went on to reach four of the next eight Grand Slam finals, but was unable to clinch a record equaling 24.

Serena Williams poses with her trophy after winning the 2017 Australian Open.
Serena Williams poses with her trophy after winning the 2017 Australian Open.
AP Photo/Dita Alangkara

And her search for an elusive 24th slam was brought to an abrupt halt at Wimbledon 2021 when she suffered an injury in the first-round.

She then did not play until June 2022.

In her Vogue column announcing her retirement, Williams conceded that she did not know whether she would be physically ready for her final bow at the US Open, but that she would "try."

"I'm not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment," she said. "I'm terrible at goodbyes, the world's worst.

"But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I'm going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I'm going to miss you."

A teenage star 

Williams won her first ever Grand Slam title at age 17, clinching the 1999 US Open by beating Martina Hingis in the final.

She went on to dominate the game during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, winning all four majors consecutively, and beating her sister Venus in the final on every occasion.

She suffered a slight setback in form thereafter, but again rose to the top in 2008.

Following her win at the 2008 US Open, Williams went on to win 13 Grand Slams over the next seven years, with her most successful season coming in 2015 when she won the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon.

Serena Williams and Venus Williams in 1998.
Serena Williams and Venus Williams during the 1998 U.S. Open.
Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Alongside her sister Venus, Williams has been widely credited with changing the face of tennis and of women's sports.

In 2021, their rise to fame under the tutelage of their father and coach, Richard Williams, was documented in the biopic "King Richard."

Will Smith played the pair's father in the movie. He won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance.

In an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour in March, the two sisters said they were aware that they were entering an "all-white sport" when they became professional tennis players, but that they relished the challenge of helping change that.

"We changed it from being two great Black champions to being the best ever, period," Serena said. "And that's what we did. We took out color and we just became the best. .... It is what it is, we changed the sport, we changed the fashion, we changed how people think, we changed how people think in business."

A picture of a switch and lightbulb
Sign up for notifications from Insider! Stay up to date with what you want to know.
Subscribe to push notifications
Deal icon An icon in the shape of a lightning bolt.

Keep reading

Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'. It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification.