The tennis dominator of the past two decades submits to the inevitable. Instead of resigning, Serena Williams preferred to talk about her development away from tennis, but that should perhaps only alleviate the pain of the farewell that has now been announced.
In a cover story for the September issue of Vogue magazine, the most successful player of the professional era announced that it would be over in a few weeks. And the long-awaited step hurts her: "I feel great pain. It's the hardest thing I could ever imagine," said the soon to be 41-year-old American. The US Open in three weeks in New York should be the right stage for the last match of a great career.
"Now the countdown has started"
"My god, how much I love tennis. But now the countdown has started. I will enjoy these coming weeks," she added on Instagram. After that, she will focus on her role as a mother and her spiritual aspirations, and discover a different but exciting Serena.
Only the day before, after 14 months and a long injury break, she had won a match at the tournament in Toronto - after almost two hours with 6: 3, 6: 4 against Nuria Parrizas Diaz from Spain. After that she commented somewhat cryptically about a light at the end of the tunnel, now she provided clarity. "Sport has given me so much. I love to win. I love to fight. I love to entertain," she said - and it's best to do it one week at a time.
Due to long injury breaks, this has only rarely been the case. The comeback in Wimbledon was already over in the first round a month ago. There are other preparatory tournaments before the US Open. "I don't know if I'll be ready to win New York, but I'll try," she announced. But she doesn't necessarily want a ceremony, a final moment on the pitch. "I'm terrible at goodbyes, the worst in the world," she said.
"I had my chances"
Serena Williams won a total of 23 Grand Slam titles, one more than German idol Steffi Graf. After a baby break, the mother of the almost five-year-old daughter Olympia was chasing in vain the all-time record of the Australian Margaret Court, who was able to celebrate 24 individual triumphs in the four most important tournaments.
"I would be lying if I said I didn't want this record," she admitted to Vogue. "Maybe I thought about it too much and that didn't help. The way I see it, I should have more than 30 Grand Slam titles. I had my chances after becoming a mother," she explained. "But I've been there 23 times and that's fine."
The four-time Olympic champion achieved her first triumph in 1999 - who was also very successful in doubles with her sister Venus, who was a year older than her - at the US Open in New York. There she also caused controversy - as in the Open 2018 final against the Japanese Naomi Osaka, when she loudly accused the referee of stealing from her.
Several protracted injuries in the course of her career slowed down Serena Williams, she kept coming back, but she is currently only number 407 in the world rankings. In her time away from tennis, she is very concerned with fashion and uses her celebrity status in the fight for equality.
When Serena Williams defeated her sister Venus in the Australian Open final in early 2017, she was already pregnant. Now she has revealed that she and her husband - entrepreneur Alexis Ohanian - have been trying to become parents for the past year. As an active athlete, Serena Williams never wants to be pregnant again.