Before she lost to Ajla Tomljanović in the third round of this year’s U.S. Open, Serena Williams had announced her intentions of “evolving away from tennis” in Vogue Magazine’s September issue.
Raised in Compton, Calif., Williams’ introduction to the tennis world began with her father and coach Richard Williams, who began training her and her older sister Venus at the age of four. Richard would coach the sisters himself until the age of 10, enroll them in a tennis academy for five years and resume coaching them into adulthood.
The younger Williams’ Grand Slam debut came at the age of 16 in the Australian Open and her first Grand Slam win was at the US open in 1999. For the next 20+ years, Williams would dominate the tennis world.
Williams holds the record for most weeks spent at the No. 1 ranking in Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) singles with 186 weeks and finished as the year-end No.1 five times. She would go on to win a record 23 Grand Slam titles — the most by any tennis player in the open era — as well as two Golden Slams, (winning all four consecutive grand slams) in 2002-2003 and 2014-2015. Topping all of these achievements, she surprised the whole world in 2017 by winning her final Grand Slam while nine weeks pregnant.
In the September 2022 issue of Vogue, Williams went into detail about her thoughts on retiring.
“It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat and I start to cry,” Williams said.
There’s no doubt that her departure from the sport is difficult, but William’s impact on athletics and the world itself is quite far from over.
Samantha Share, a senior majoring in human resource management, said, “I think she’s bada–. She’s a good role model for young girls that want to get into sports.”
Aidan Minnick, a sophomore majoring in finance, boasted about Williams’ legacy status as “The Goat.
“She’s in the big four, with Nadal, Federer and Djokovic,” Minnick said.
Williams is also one of the highest-earning female athletes of all time, with 90 million dollars in prize money and 350 million dollars in endorsements. An activist for equality, she has spoken out against sexism in sports, demanding equal pay for female athletes and financially investing in women-owned businesses.
Despite leaving her prime performance ability back in 2017, Williams has given hints on the possibility of a Tom Brady-like return, saying “you never know,” when asked in an on-court interview about a possible comeback. Though it is very unlikely, her return would spurn up the tennis world.
But for now, as stated in Vogue, Williams has many other endeavors she has to prioritize.
“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,” Wiliams said in her Vogue article.
Started in 2014, Serena Ventures has raised over 111 million dollars in outside financing just this year. Williams aims to invest in health and welfare companies, as well as propel women-owned businesses to higher levels.
“More people who look like me need to be in that position, giving money back to themselves,” Williams said after finding out only 2% of venture capital revenue reaches women.
In 27 years, Williams has seen unprecedented success as an athlete. Her golden slams, gold medals and weeks sitting at the top of tennis may never be touched. Unlike other athletes that fade away after retirement, Serena has the capability to match her competitive success with her business ventures and activism. So even if she doesn’t pull a “Tom Brady,” she will remain a “goat” wherever she goes.