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Serena Williams Will Retire from Tennis After U.S. Open

The 23-time Grand Slam champion announces plan to retire later this month.

Tennis champion, cultural icon and three-time SI Swimsuit model Serena Williams has announced her plan to retire from her sport after the upcoming U.S. Open tournament. In an interview with Vogue published on August 9, she explains that she “never liked the word retirement” and prefers the word “evolution” to describe what’s coming next for her. “I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” said Williams, noting her venture capital firm Serena Ventures.

Williams, who turns 41 in September, says she is ready to expand her family. “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.” She had a scary experience with her first pregnancy; daughter Olympia will be 5 next month.

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In a post on Instagram, Williams told followers, “My goodness do I enjoy tennis. But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”

Williams will be featured on the cover of Vogue’s September issue, with the cover story aptly titled “Serena’s Farewell.” The issue features a first-person essay on why she feels now is the right time to leave tennis. Her announcement comes less than 24 hours after she won her first match in more than a year in the first round of the National Bank Open, a U.S. Open tune-up tournament. She remains on the early entry list for the fourth and final Grand Slam of the year, an event that she’s won six times.

Williams appeared in the 2003, 2004, and 2017 SI Swimsuit Issues. While we will no doubt miss Williams on the court, we cannot wait to see what’s next in her evolution.