Serena Williams revolutionized women’s tennis due to her powerful style of play, as well as for her 23 Grand Slam singles titles wins during the open era; more wins than any man or woman. In January 2017, Serena won the Australian Open, while being 20 weeks pregnant with her daughter. At 40 years old, the worldwide phenomenon just announced her decision to “evolve away from tennis,” soon after this summer’s U.S. Open.
Women have had to settle on motherhood over a career for centuries, and Impresionante is here to show you how Serena successfully juggled both at the same time and how she’s now ready to let go of one.
From humble beginnings to being the greatest of all time
Williams started to play tennis at the young age of 5 and, coached by her father, Richard Williams, she went on to conquer the world, along with her sister Venus. In 1995, at 14, she became a pro player. Contrary to people’s expectations, Serena was the first of the two to win a Grand Slam singles title, in 1999.
Williams’ entire life has always been about tennis. Her father says she first picked up a racket at the age of 3, but Serena thinks it was even earlier. Behind her motivation, the main thing that kept her going all these years was the constant strive for perfection. “I know perfect doesn’t exist, but whatever my perfect was, I never wanted to stop until I got it right.”
Serena beautifully blends motherhood with an extraordinary career.
In the early days of her career, Serena never thought about having kids. She met her husband, Alexis Ohanian in 2015 and a couple of years later, they welcomed their daughter, Olympia. Williams played tennis all throughout breastfeeding, even through her post-partum depression.
The athlete shared that if today she has to choose between working on her career and working on her family, she undoubtedly chooses the latter. She never wanted to have to choose between the two, because it’s not 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.”
After 35+ years of rocking the tennis court, Serena gathers her rackets and focuses on what matters to her right now.
Serena announced her plans for her upcoming future in an article in Vogue, written by herself. Holder of 4 Olympic gold medals, the athlete got vulnerable and uncovered the reason behind her life-changing decision:
“My daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 this month, and I were (…) 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.’”
“I never liked the word retirement. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution.”
Serena shared that she’s been reluctant to admit that she needs to move on from playing tennis. It’s a sensitive topic, whenever it comes up she starts crying. She only discussed this topic with her therapist. Standing tall and courageous, “I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. I started a family. I want to grow that family.”
Signing off, Serena wants all of us to know that she is “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.”
If you could say anything to Serena Williams in less than 5 words, what would you tell her? Who’s your favorite athlete that you look up to? Let us know in the comments.
Photo credit: Getty, East News, Instagram