Serena Williams will retire at this year’s US Open & try for a second baby

Welp, it looks and sounds like this year’s US Open is going to be Serena Williams’ final moment on court as a professional tennis player. Serena covers the September issue of Vogue and the cover story is called “Serena’s Farewell.” While she does not say explicitly: “I’m retiring forever at the US Open,” that’s definitely what she’s saying, that these North American tournaments are her swan song and she’s trying to have another baby. You can read the full Vogue piece here. Some highlights:

Olympia is guilting her about having another baby: “This morning, my daughter, Olympia, who turns five this month, and I were on our way to get her a new passport before a trip to Europe. We’re in my car, and she’s holding my phone, using an interactive educational app she likes. This robot voice asks her a question: What do you want to be when you grow up? She doesn’t know I’m listening, but I can hear the answer she whispers into the phone. She says, “I want to be a big sister.” Olympia says this a lot, even when she knows I’m listening. Sometimes before bed, she prays to Jehovah to bring her a baby sister. (She doesn’t want anything to do with a boy!) I’m the youngest of five sisters myself, and my sisters are my heroes, so this has felt like a moment I need to listen very carefully to.

It’s not fair: “Believe me, 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. 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 loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia…But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.

Don’t say retirement: “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.

She hasn’t even wanted to talk about retirement: “Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic. I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry. The only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist! One thing I’m not going to do is sugarcoat this. I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way… 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. 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.”

The Margaret Court “record”: “There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the “open era” that began in 1968. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her. If I’m in a grand slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help. The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams. I had my chances after coming back from giving birth. I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression. But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually it’s extraordinary. But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.

She’s focused on having another child: “In the last year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family. I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.

New York: “Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun. I know there’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, “See ya!” I get that. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. 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.

[From Vogue]

I feel like crying, and Serena probably feels like crying too. New York is it. It will be over in September, just weeks before she turns 41. And she’s going to try to have another baby. I understand that math and I’m happy that she is leaving on her terms, on her time table. I’m also bummed because, as she admits, she feels like she had more to do and she still enjoyed her time on court. But she’s ready to be all the way out. God, tennis will miss her. The world will miss her.

Cover & IG courtesy of Vogue.

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39 Responses to “Serena Williams will retire at this year’s US Open & try for a second baby”

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  1. Eurydice says:

    Such honesty – I love her so much.

  2. Christine says:

    That line about missing the girl who played tennis, full on tears…she IS the goat and M.Court wouldnt win a set from her ever. She has evolved so much and her vulnerability in this interview is heartbreaking and inspiring. And she mentions her therapist! Love her normalizing it. This is leadership. Cant wait to see what is next for her!

    • Southern Fried says:


      • sunny says:

        Me too! I adore her and beyond being the greatest in the sport, she has been great for the sport in so many ways.

        Wishing her happiness and success in her next steps. What a privilege to watch her career.

  3. ME says:

    Her first pregnancy almost killed her. I hope her second pregnancy (if she chooses to go that route) is much easier on her.

    • Sue E Generis says:

      Was just thinking this. It sounds like she’s looking to go the traditional route with another pregnancy. Given her age and her health risks, it seems like surrogacy might be worth considering.

      • candy says:

        …surrogacy is by no means an easy out. There is a great emotional toll on all people involved, and physical toll on the gestational carrier.

      • Chantal says:

        Love Serena! I have followed her amazing career and this saddens me. But I’m sure she’ll be great at whatever comes next!

        @Sue Green. Serena is a Jehovah’s Witness and their religion does not allow them to donate blood, receive blood transfusions, nor allow them to store their own blood for future use. The sacredness of blood is a major tenet of their religion so no surrogacy. My father was a JW and died bc he refused a blood transfusion for quadruple heart bypass surgery. I won’t go into my battle with him, the JW leadership and lawyers, the doctors and my sister – I and the JWs had medical power of attorney. But accepting one could be grounds for disfellowship (its like excommunication).

  4. girl_ninja says:

    I love her and am so proud of her. I hope that she and her sweet family will continue to grow and thrive.

    • girl_ninja says:

      What will Maria Sharapova announce to compete with Serena’s Vogue cover and announcement? 😂

  5. mia girl says:

    If there is anyone whose earned the right to exit on their own terms it’s Serena Williams.

    Thanks for all the wonderful years Serena.

  6. Jess says:

    She is the GOAT on the court and amazing off the court as well. Every one of these answers were so great. She is fantastic and given all of the stuff she has had to endure, she deserves whatever makes her happiest.

  7. Ceej says:

    She is truly one of the most remarkable women to have graced this world. I hope she goes on to be the GOAT in the venture world because I am certain she would shake up the white, male and stale grip over venture capitalism the same way she and her sister trailblazed through tennis and left an open gate behind them for others to find their way.

    Even the fact she takes the time to acknowledge that the word transition has a special meaning to a community so she doesn’t want to co-opt it for herself. I want Netflix to just follow her around for a year while she’s running her other businesses so we don’t ever have to deal with missing her.

  8. LRob says:

    i love this woman. thank you Serena. keep winning at life.

  9. ThatsNotOkay says:

    I’m all choked up. This is the rawest, realest, most introspective, and most amazing of all the interviews I’ve heard from her. Love her so much and wish her so much success this September and beyond. Love, Forever Your Fan

  10. Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

    Serena is GOAT!

    (Question to the tennis folks: why does she have to retire but Venus who is older and the CEO of like five million dollar businesses is still playing? Is it bc if the pregnancies?) or

    • Kaiser says:

      Venus is still playing because she still wants to play. End of.

      • Lana says:

        End of what? Why always so rude when someone ask a simple question? Someone could use some manners

      • Persephone says:

        @Lana, I don’t think she meant it in a rude way. At least, I didn’t read it like that.

      • Queen Meghan’s Hand says:

        @Lana, I don’t think the response is rude. And to some people, it could seem I’m implying that Venus should retire (she shouldn’t! I don’t want the Williams sisters to ever leave tennis).
        I should have phrased my question differently: why has the retirement conversation been strong around Serena and not Venus?

  11. Jais says:

    Such a good interview

  12. Amy Bee says:

    I thought this year’s US Open would be her last but I didn’t think she would make an announcement before the tournament. At least she finally got the Vogue cover and I’m glad she’s going on her own terms.

  13. RoSco says:

    How do we organize an online retirement party for her?!

  14. Janice Hill says:

    Thoroughly inspiring. And she looks amazing in those pictures.

  15. TheOriginalMia says:

    I felt this was coming. I’m glad she’s going out on her terms. I also feel once Margaret departs this world, things will be changed to allow Serena to claim what’s truly hers. She is the GOAT. In the modern era, there is no one who can match her.

    I’m thrilled for Olympia. She wants to be a big sis. Hopefully, this 2nd pregnancy and delivery will be easier for Serena.

    Lastly, I’m probably gonna bawl at her final match. She’s an amazing athlete, role model and all around badass. She’ll be truly missed on the court.

  16. Jessica says:

    I’m not going to read the excerpts..I want to wait until I get the mag and read it all at once. But wow..those photos are stunning..especially the one with her and Olympia

  17. TQ says:

    The GOAT and a true queen. It has been amazing to watch her career so far. Can’t wait to watch her successes continue during this next phase.

  18. goofpuff says:

    Great interview. She is the GOAT. I will miss her amazing skill in tennis but I look forward to all the other great things she’ll be able to achieve now that she can turn her full attention toward them.

  19. Jasper says:

    It’s not fair for me to pit my expectations on to her at all, but damn I’m going to miss her when she leaves tennis. She is truly the GOAT and deserves way more respect for what she has achieved and overcame than she currently gets. The energy and excitement that she brings to the court is second to none. Both she and her sister leave me in awe of what they have accomplished and I wish Serena and her family the very best and that she continues making herself happy and exceeding expectations.

  20. jferber says:

    Aw hell, she IS the GOAT. I so hope she works with a surrogate because I know she has trouble with clotting (I share this) and I know it can be life-threatening. Live your best life, Serena. I know you will.

  21. SuzieQ says:

    What a legacy. What an icon.

    And she’s yet again setting an example for women — to go after what they truly want with all they have.

  22. lucy2 says:

    She is for sure the GOAT. I don’t even follow tennis but I know she’s the GOAT.
    Those photos are beautiful. This is going to be a big change for her, but I hope she gets everything she wants, and whatever is next for her is a huge success.

  23. Truthiness says:

    It’s hard to put Serena in words, there is something ineffable about her. Legend, GOAT, superstar, come to mind. Beautiful. Amazing to watch. Trailblazer, with Venus. Some of her most stunning moments are when she shut down racism or sexism with grace. Seriously, I can’t count the number of moments that she put up with isht with words of elegance, patience, grace. Mostly I think we’re lucky to have her exist in our era, breaking glass ceilings.

    • Southern Fried says:

      All of what you said, Truthiness. She’s one of the greatest athletes to ever live. Watching her was a joy not only to tennis fans but the rest of us also. We’ll miss her on the courts but I’m sure she will continue to amaze and inspire us in whatever she chooses to do.

  24. searchlight soul says:

    That Vogue piece got me right in the feels. I remember seeing Venus and Serena on the local news when they were still little.

    She’s the GOAT of all of tennis, not just women’s.

  25. Mollie says:

    This makes me super sad, but I am so thankful to have watched her play tennis for the past 20 plus years. Thank you, Serena for over two decades of amazing!

  26. Robin Samuels says:

    I’m thankful for Serena and Venus. They endured the pain of the “heckles and jeckles” and misogyny and graciously accepted their wins and defeats.
    I watched Serena in her BetterUp interview with Prince Harry and the founder. She was open and honest about her strong feelings about winning and losing. She has made sound investments, and I believe she will be the first female billionaire in sports.
    Women can successfully carry a full-term baby at the age of forty. Tamaron Hall gave birth to her first child at 40. A robust and healthy body can do miraculous things.

  27. Deering24 says:

    I hope she becomes a regular tennis commentator. Have always been impressed how she analyzes her matches post-game.