(NewsNation) — Tennis great Serena Williams announced she plans to retire, saying in an essay that the “countdown” to her moving away from her tennis career has started.
In a Vogue magazine essay published Tuesday, the seven-time Wimbledon winner said she is “evolving” away from tennis toward “other things that are important to me.”
“I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me,” Williams said. “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. “
After tennis, Williams said she plans to focus on growing her family with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and her venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, as well as her “spiritual goals” and discovering a “different, but just (as) exciting Serena.”
“I’m going to relish these next few weeks,” she said.
Williams’ said her almost 5-year-old daughter, Olympia, wants a little sibling, and that in the last year, she and Ohanian have been trying to have another child.
Pointing out that she was two months pregnant when she won the Australian Open in 2017, Williams said she doesn’t want to be expecting as an athlete again.
“I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give,” Williams said.
A picture of the Vogue cover Williams posted on Instagram shows the tennis star posed next to the words, “Serena’s Farewell.”
Noting that she hates the word “retirement,” Williams said her decision was an emotional one.
“I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis,” she said in the essay. “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!”
In her essay, Williams said she is expecting to play the U.S. Open in New York, which begins at the end of the month.
Williams is playing this week in Toronto, at a hard-court tournament that leads into the U.S. Open, the year’s last Grand Slam event, which begins in New York on Aug. 29.
“I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York,” she said. “But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”
The American has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than any other woman or man. Only one player, Margaret Court, collected more, 24, although she won a portion of hers in the amateur era.
This past June, Williams was eliminated from Wimbledon in the first round, which also marked her comeback after 364 days out of singles competitions.
“This sport has given me so much. I love to win. I love the battle. I love to entertain. I’m not sure every player sees it that way, but I love the performance aspect of it — to be able to entertain people week after week,” she said.
When reflecting on her legacy, Williams said she doesn’t always know what to say.
“But I’d like to think that thanks to opportunities afforded to me, women athletes feel that they can be themselves on the court. They can play with aggression and pump their fists. They can be strong yet beautiful,” Williams said. “They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick butt and be proud of it all. I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my career. Mistakes are learning experiences, and I embrace those moments.”
This story is developing. Refresh for updates.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.