Serena Williams retires from professional tennis: ‘I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family’

Serena Williams has announced her retirement from professional tennis, calling out the sexist double standards that force women to choose between career and family.

In an emotional open letter (published in Vogue), Serena explained that she’s “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to [her].” 

The 23-time Grand Slam winner wrote, “I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” and pointed out that if she was a man, she’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 […] But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.” 

Serena Williams has previously been open about her traumatic experience giving birth to Olympia, saying during an interview with Vogue that she had to insist on being given a CT scan, despite nurses attributing her anxiety to pain medication. 

In her open letter, Serena described the difficulties she experienced when returning to professional sport after giving birth, saying, “I had my chances after coming back from giving birth. I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final. 

“I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression. But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually it’s extraordinary. But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter.”

Serena also noted that she wanted to invest more attention in Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. She wrote, “started investing nine years ago, and I really fell in love with early stage, whether it’s pre-seed funding, where you’re investing in just an idea, or seed, where the idea has already been turned into a product,” adding that, “Seventy-​eight percent of our portfolio happens to be companies started by women and people of color, because that’s who we are.”

We’re wishing Serena all the luck in the world for her next chapter. 

For more from Glamour UK’s Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.