Serena Williams is retiring–presumably at this year’s U.S. Open.
In an essay published by Vogue on Tuesday, Williams wrote that “the countdown has begun” and that she plans to “relish these next few weeks.” The 40-year-old is currently playing at the National Bank Open in Toronto and has Cincinnati next up on her schedule before the U.S. Open begins on August 29.
Williams is just now returning from a year-long absence since suffering a knee injury last summer at Wimbledon. She lost in round one at the All-England Club this season and picked up her first win in 13 months by beating Nuria Parrizas Diaz on Monday in Toronto.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams added. “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.”
The 23-time Grand Slam champion doesn’t necessarily think retirement will be fun; it’s simply a necessity based on her off-court aspirations. Her daughter, Olympia, will soon be five years old and it sounds like at least one sibling could be on the way soon.
“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 explained. “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.”
Williams will head to New York–presumably for her farewell–as a six-time champion of that tournament, last winning it in 2014. She first lifted a U.S. Open trophy in 1999 for her maiden Grand Slam title as a 17-year-old. Since getting to the 23 Grand Slam mark five seasons ago, Williams has been to four majors finals–losing twice at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Now she will leave finals and titles to be enjoyed by the younger generation.
“The legacy that she’s left through her tennis career is something that I don’t think any other player can probably touch,” said world No. 11 Coco Gauff. “I think that the legacy that she will continue to leave throughout her life is something that can inspire many more generations.
“I grew up watching her. I mean, that’s the reason why I play tennis. Tennis being a predominantly white sport, [the Williams sisters’ presence] definitely helped a lot because I saw somebody who looked like me dominating the game. It made me believe that I could dominate, too.
“I think her whole story–the Williams sisters’ story, not just Serena, with Mr. Williams and all that he’s done for both of them–inspired my dad to continue to coach me and help me even though he had not really much tennis experience. But he was like, ‘If Mr. Williams can do it, then I can.’
“I think it’s not so much just what Serena and Venus have left; it’s also the whole Williams family in general.”