The tennis legend and subject of the Oscar-nominated drama King Richard will retire after the U.S. Open in New York later this month.
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Serena Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam tennis champion and four-time Olympic gold medalist, has announced her retirement from the sport.

The tennis legend plans to step away after playing in the U.S. Open in New York later this month — though she'd prefer you not say she's retiring. "I have never liked the word retirement," Williams wrote in a Vogue cover story published Tuesday. "It doesn't feel like a modern word to me."

"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," she continued. "Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."

Williams — the subject of the Oscar-winning 2021 drama film King Richard, centered on patriarch Richard Williams' determination to shape daughters Serena and Venus Williams into sports legends — cited a desire to focus on Serena Ventures, her venture capital firm, and her growing family that consists of her Reddit co-founder husband Alexis Ohanian and their daughter Olympia, 4.

Serena Williams
Serena Williams
| Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

"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," Williams wrote. "I definitely don't want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out." Williams added she "never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family."

But, "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," she continued. "Maybe I'd be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity. Don't get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. I was one of those annoying women who adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to the hospital — although things got super complicated on the other side."

"And I almost did do the impossible: A lot of people don't realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017," Williams said. "But I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give."

Williams won her first U.S Open in 1999 at age 17 and went on to win more Grand Slam singles titles than any other player. With sister Venus, the pair have won 14 women's doubles titles. Director Reinaldo Marcus Green's King Richard tracked the early days of the Williams sisters, when they honed their skills on the tennis courts of Compton, Calif. They served as executive producers and were portrayed by Demi Singleton and Saniyya Sidney, while Will Smith played their father and won Best Actor at this year's Oscars.

KING RICHARD
Demi Singleton, Saniyya Sidney, and Will Smith in 'King Richard'
| Credit: Chiabella James/Warner Bros.

"If you watched King Richard, then you know that when I was little, I was not very good at tennis," Williams wrote. "I was so sad when I didn't get all the early opportunities that Venus got, but that helped me. It made me work harder, turning me into a savage fighter. I'd travel to tournaments with Venus as her hitting partner, and if there was an open slot, I'd play. I followed her around the world and watched her. When she lost, I understood why, and I made sure I wouldn't lose the same way."

"If I hadn't been in Venus's shadow, I would never be who I am," Williams wrote. "When someone said I was just the little sister, that's when I got really fired up." At the upcoming U.S. Open, Williams isn't "looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment," she said. "I'm terrible at goodbyes. But please know that I am 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."

Related content:

King Richard (2021 movie)

Will Smith stars in this biopic about the father of tennis legends Venus and Serena Williams.

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