Serena Williams has announced her imminent retirement from tennis.
The 23-time grand-slam champion won her first singles match for more than a year at the National Bank Open in Toronto on Monday evening but has revealed in a personal essay for Vogue that she has decided to end her career.
“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” she wrote.
Williams has committed to playing at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati next week as well as the US Open later this month, and it appears that will be her final tournament.
The 40-year-old appears on the cover of Vogue US’s September issue in a flowing blue dress against a beach backdrop.
Posting the issue’s cover and images on her Instagram account, the tennis star wrote: “There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction.
“That time is always hard when you love something so much. My goodness do I enjoy tennis. But now, the countdown has begun.”
She said her next steps were focusing on being a mother, her spiritual goals and “finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena”, adding that she will “relish these next few weeks.”
In her personal piece for the publication, Williams said: “Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year.
“And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.
“I know there’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret (Court on 24 slam singles titles) that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, ‘See ya!’
“I get that. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst.”