Tennis icon Serena Williams plans to retire after the U.S. Open, which starts this month. Williams, age 40, made the announcement in an essay for Vogue on Aug. 9.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” Williams wrote. “I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
Williams said she wants to focus on growing both her family with husband Alexis Ohanian and her venture capital business, Serena Ventures.
Since going pro in 1995, Williams has dominated the sport with her above-average serve speed and stellar athleticism. Her father, Richard Williams, coached both Serena Williams and her sister Venus Williams to become two of the best tennis players in the world.
Over the span of her career, Serena Williams has earned 23 Grand Slam singles titles, winning the U.S. Open six times and Australian Open seven times. She’s also won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles with her sister and four Olympic gold medals.
Williams is widely recognized as one of the best tennis players of all time.
As her historic career comes to an end, here are six of her most iconic tennis moments.
In 1999, at 17 years old, Williams won her first Grand Slam title against tennis legend Martina Hingis.
Williams played a fierce game against her sister during the U.S. Open in 2001, though she ultimately lost. The event made history as the first Grand Slam singles championship match between African Americans and the first major women’s final on prime-time television, according to the Women’s Tennis Association.
After dealing with foot injuries and blood clots in 2010, Williams had solid wins against tennis greats Petra Kvitova in 2012 and Maria Sharapova in 2013. With those victories, she became the oldest person in Women’s Tennis Association history to obtain the No. 1 list ranking, at age 31.
Williams told Sports Illustrated in 2013 that she didn’t think she’d reach the top again after losing the highest ranking in 2010.
“I never thought I would be here again,” Williams said. “Oh my gosh, I’ve been through so much. I never thought I would be here.”
After beating Sharapova to win the gold at the 2012 Olympics, Williams broke into a “crip walk” — a dance popularized as part of California gang culture during the 1970s.
In a news conference following the match, Williams characterized her moves as “just a dance we do in California.”
Williams faced off against her sister once again at the 2017 Australian Open, winning the game and capturing her 23rd Grand Slam singles title while pregnant with her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
“I’ve been chasing it for a really long time,” Williams said at the time, referring to the 23rd major singles title. “When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I’m here. It’s a great feeling.”
In 2018, Williams was fined $17,000 for an outburst at chair umpire Carlos Ramos after he accused her of receiving coaching during a U.S. Open match. Williams was reprimanded for breaking a racket and calling Ramos a “thief” and a “liar.”
In a press conference after her eventual loss to then-newcomer Naomi Osaka, Williams criticized Ramos for “sexist” decision-making.
“For me to say ‘thief’ and for him to take a game, it made me feel like it was a sexist remark,” Williams said.
“He’s never taken a game from a man because they said ‘thief,’” she continued. “For me it blows my mind. But I’m going to continue to fight for women.”