The final curtain is set to fall on Serena Williams’ glorious career as she had to make the tough decision between parenthood and playing tennis, but during a candid interview the tennis great says there is “no anger”.
Twenty-seven years after making her professional debut, Williams has decided to “evolve away from tennis” and she admitted it came down to the difficult choice – being a parent or being a tennis player. She chose the former and the US Open is set to be her farewell event.
The soon-to-be 41-year-old has been very open about the different challenges facing men and women as the former don’t have to retire if they want to have children – or more in the case of Williams.
In an interview with TIME, she said: “It comes to a point where women sometimes have to make different choices than men, if they want to raise a family. It’s just black and white. You make a choice or you don’t.”
The American added: “There is no anger. I’m ready for the transition.”
Williams will go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all time, if not THE greatest, as she won 23 Grand Slams – the most in the Open Era – spent 319 weeks atop the WTA Rankings and broke numerous records over the past three decades.
Tennis took a different direction on the back of Serena and her sister Venus’ rise as it turned into a power game.
“We changed the game of tennis,” Williams said. “We changed how people play, period. People never attacked. People never took balls early. People never served like this. People never had to play so hard to beat two Black girls from Compton.”
Yet while her on-court achievements have been spectacular, it is her off-court accomplishments – along with Venus – that have been truly awe-inspiring.
The Williams sisters not only transcended tennis, but they also gave young players of colour hope of reaching the top. And it didn’t just stop at sport and skin colour.
“A lot of people feel they’re not pretty or they’re not cute enough because their skin is dark,” Serena said.
Williams has dealt with a lot of racism while she was often also labelled as too muscular, but it was all like water off a duck’s back as she continued to inspire.
“I think people could feel my confidence, because I was always told, ‘You look great. Be Black and be proud.'”
She added: “Giving them that confidence, that motivation, is something that has literally never been done.
“You don’t let the world decide beauty. And me being thicker or whatever, I mean, curves are popular now. Butts are popular. I’m trying to lose mine, and people are trying to get mine.”
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