Serena Williams has transcended the sport of tennis to become an icon in tennis, sports, business, motherhood and humanity. In her own words, she defines her enduring legacy and history.
Serena Williams has been the face of women’s tennis for so long, it’s hard to imagine the sport without her. As she has done throughout her illustrious career (and life), she wrote a poignantly moving essay about her retirement on her own terms, in her own words.
And you really should read the frank, eloquent statement in its entirety.
I’ve written a lot about it Serena Williams through the years. She has been setting standards in women’s tennis for decades. We’re not just talking about sporting greatness, but also how women are valued in sport, how it has taken that very value to even greater heights and how it has influenced the importance of women’s tennis around the world.
To talk about Serena Williams is to talk about the trailblazer who surpassed men’s finals, who translated her incredible presence into a multi-billion dollar business empire and venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, and of course, advanced the narrative for women’s equality in world sport . Most of the following quotes are taken directly from Serena’s moving personal essay.
“I started playing tennis with the goal of winning the US Open. I haven’t thought about that. And then I just kept winning. I remember when I passed the Martina Hingis Grand Slam count. Then Seles. And then I tied Billie Jean King who is such an inspiration to me because she pioneered gender equality in all sports. Then it went over the mountain Chris Evert-Martina Navratilova.”
Aside from her incredible athletic gifts, Serena’s journey as a mother has also been absolutely inspiring. She’s once again set the bar high in all aspects of motherhood and just like her retirement announcement, she’s raised five-year-old Olympia (along with husband Alexis Ohanian) in a way that further demonstrates her size and empowerment. The fact that she’s held the highest standard in both (you could vote for her mother of the year and player of the year at the same time!) makes her even more impressive.
Serena Williams could have been tennis’ Tom Brady but forged her own path by her own rules.
Serena Williams could have simply become the Tom Brady of tennis, have babies or let others carry babies (surrogacy could easily have been an option) and continue climbing the mountain of tennis skill to infinity. If she hadn’t given birth to baby Olympia, who knows where the 40-year-old would sit in the majors table? The 23-time Slam champion reflected on that.
“The way I see it, I should have had more than 30 Grand Slams. I had my chances after coming back from childbirth. I went from a cesarean to a second pulmonary embolism to a Grand Slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I went through postpartum depression. But I didn’t get there. Should, would, could. I didn’t show up like I should or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually, it’s extraordinary.”
Serena’s iconic status has been earned in part by her amazing ability to stay true to herself, and her honest reflection on how motherhood transformed her life is a testament to her humanity. A great person is great because they choose to be, not because of someone else’s direction.
“Earlier in my career, I never thought about having children. There were times I wondered if I should ever bring children into this world with all its problems… I figured if I ever had a baby I would have people taking care of it 24/7 . I won’t lie – I definitely have a lot of support. But I’m also an incredibly hands-on mother. My husband will tell you I’m too practical. In five years, Olympia has been just a 24-hour period away from me. For the past year, while recovering from a hamstring injury, I was allowed to pick her up from school four or five days a week, and I always looked forward to seeing her beaming face when she left the building and saw me waiting there for her. The fact is, for me, nothing is a sacrifice when it comes to the Olympics. It just all makes sense.”
When you’re great, everyone wants to share a part of what they think aligns with your importance. Earlier calls from legendary colleagues Billie Jean King and Chris Evert – who penned a related “open letter” – trying to motivate Serena to focus only on tennis and her race for the majors – are just a few examples of how others only have one see a small part of who she really is.
“Nonetheless, one question remains — have you ever thought about your place in history? Is it something you care about? In the short term you may be happy with different things in your life, but I wonder if you might be thinking about your career in 20 years and regret not putting 100 percent of yourself into tennis. wrote Evert in 2006. “Because whether you want to admit it or not, these distractions cloud your legacy.”
but Serena always has been more than just the sport she conquered: a rare, beautiful person who defines her second act, which is to inspire the next generation within her own family as well as the world’s population.
“But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I’ll choose the latter.”
She may be retiring from one aspect of her extraordinary, iconic life, but she continues to nurture her love, generosity, and hope for the future through her philanthropy and the expansion of her fulfilling family.
“In my own life, the balance has slowly shifted towards Serena Ventures. I always say I’m a sponge: I go to bed at night and squeeze myself out to absorb as much new information as possible the next day. Every morning I’m so excited to walk down the stairs to my office, hop on zooms and start checking the decks of companies we’d like to invest in…. This year we raised $111 million in debt capital from banks, individuals and family offices. Seventy-eight percent of our portfolio are companies founded by women and people of color, because that’s who we are.”
Serena Williams’ record will remain an amazing bastion of excellence. And to put things into perspective, her long list of tennis achievements includes:
- Own 23 Grand Slam individual trophies (this is the record for the Open Era)
- Only tennis player – male or female – to have won three of the four Grand Slams at least six times.
- Won the WTA Tour Championships five times.
- Together with her sister Venus, Serena owns the third most double majors.
- She shares the record with Venus for most Olympic gold medals, including three doubles and one singles (for EACH of them, which is absolutely incredible), and the only woman in the Open Era to win gold in both categories.
- Oldest player to reach world No. 1 at 35 years and six months (April 2017).
- Oldest player to win a Grand Slam title at 35 years and four months when she reached her last major at the Australian Open in 2017 (when she was two months pregnant!).
- Won 14 women’s doubles majors
- Became the highest paid female athlete in the world in 2016 with earnings of nearly $29 million.
- Was awarded Laureus Sportswoman of the Year four times (2003, 2010, 2016, 2018).
- Was named Sportsman of the Year by Sports Illustrated in December 2015.
- Highest Earning Female Athlete of All Time (another GOAT stat to add to the stack).
- Owns 73 WTA titles.
- Won a Fed Cup team title (1999)
- Won two Hopman Cup mixed-team titles (2003, 2008).
All those amazing stats aside, on the day she puts down her racquet for the last time – at this year’s US Open – she will remain one of the greatest champions the world has ever seen.
But losing tennis will be part of a complex, remarkable person who will continue to add to her impressive legacy. We will follow their future ventures with keen attention.
https://fansided.com/2022/08/09/serena-williams-retirement-tom-brady-tennis/ In peace, Serena Williams walks away from being the Tom Brady of tennis