Many parents have had to choose between their careers and their families, and professional athletes are no exception, it appears. In September's issue of Vogue, Serena Williams, explained that she is retiring from tennis in a super emotional decision, to have more children.
The 40-year-old 23-time Grand Slam champion also has a venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which she plans to work on further when she “retires," making it clear that she doesn't enjoy that term.
"I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me," she explains. "I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."
In her impassioned essay, Serena Williams is also giving voice to the impossible decision many parents have to make each year—to choose between furthering their career and their families. She admits she doesn't feel she can be a successful parent while also still competing as a top-tier, world-class athlete—something male athletes don't really have to contend with.
She knows the gender differences in parenting roles, particularly working parent roles, are stark.
"If I were a guy, I wouldn't be writing this because I'd be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family," she says. “Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”
In her Vogue feature, she’s pictured in stunning gowns near her four-year-old, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. who she refers to as Olympia in the article. Like every mom drowning in the balance between a successful career and parenting, Williams says “something’s got to give,” and that the public might not have been aware that she was two months pregnant when she won the Australian Open in 2017, balancing first-trimester life and professional tennis.
It's not the kind of lifestyle she can keep up with anymore.
"In the last year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family," she writes. "I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out."
Fans have rallied around Williams in her announcement, with one Twitter fan posting “Yes!! Mama Serena! Beautiful! That's exactly what I wanted for you, to bow out in your own time and "on your own terms". You're already a G.O.A.T! Want to see you do well at the US Open! Much love & blessings to you and your beautiful family always!” Others applauded the Vogue article for telling Serena Williams’ story “in her own words.”
Though this might be her last month in the tennis spotlight, fans have proven they will be following her journey for years to come, even off the court.