SERENA WILLIAMS SAYS DAUGHTER OLYMPIA IS HAPPY SHE’S RETIRING FROM TENNIS

 
 

After years of gossip surrounding will-she-or-won’t-she retire, Serena Williams is gracefully bowing out of her tennis career. The repeated champion is hailed as one of the best of her generation—if not ever—and her career stretches back to her childhood in Compton, California.

She began playing tennis at just four years old. Her career has been marked and studied from front to back, and she retires with global praise for a job well done. “Olympia doesn’t like when I play tennis,” the sports giant told TIME about her daughter’s reaction to the news.

Williams claimed that when she told her daughter that she wouldn’t play tennis anymore, Olympia was thrilled. “That kind of makes me sad and brings anxiety to my heart,” she said of Olympia’s reaction. Tennis, like other sports, requires a dedication that often impedes on all relationships. “It’s hard to completely commit when your flesh and blood is saying, ‘Aw.’”

As the years move forward, Olympia has also been asking for a sibling, and whereas her male peers can be of a similar age, have children, and continue with their careers at the top, Williams recognizes that she will have to make sacrifices that they don’t concern themselves with.

“It comes to a point where women sometimes have to make different choices than men, if they want to raise a family,” said the 41 year old. “It’s just black and white. You make a choice or you don’t.” However, she’s ready for this next phase of her life and welcomes it without stress or anger.

On motherhood, Williams said, “I think I’m good at it, but I want to explore if I can be great at it.” TIME’s new cover: What @serenawilliams gave the world. The greatest female athlete of all time—check that: perhaps the greatest athlete of all time—is hanging up her racket for good.

It’s been too long a road for Williams to shy away from what she’s done. She owns it. Deservedly. Unapologetically. And it’s rooted in what she knows she and her sister have meant to the sport that both shaped them and they shaped. “We changed the game of tennis,” Williams says. “We changed how people play, period.”

In her final days as a pro tennis player, she also shed some tears. Walking away from the game you’ve spent your life mastering is complicated. So this is it. One last dance in New York City. One final message to millions.

 

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