Tennis, Reborn: The Impact of Williams’ Retirement


Serena Williams has retired.

This statement means a lot of different things to people, whether they be aspiring young tennis players or retired professionals who continue their passion for the sport much past their prime. To some, it’s the expected response of women; quit the “side” job to prioritize family, and do whatever is necessary to appease the public. To others, it is a representation of peacefully stepping away from a well-developed interest to pursue other paths. Whether the opinion falls into one of these categories or not, everyone has something to say about her decision and whether it is the right thing for Williams. 

As for Serena Williams herself,  she is adamant in her decision to retire from tennis in order to focus on her family and potentially make room for another addition. In a feature article by Vogue, she describes that her work “balance has slowly been shifting toward Serena Ventures.” A business that has been thriving for several years, she believes that by investing more time into the company and various potential sponsorships, she can help it succeed with a more hands-on role. She drives the conversation back to familial priorities, describing some thoughts she had when making the decision itself: “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… But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.” As it was made evident through her strongly worded statements, her reason for retirement was mostly associated with prioritizing her daughter and hopefully adding a new person to her family. Although she would have rather been able to do both, the circumstances did not permit it- just another pro of being a woman athlete in a world where men are placed at a higher value. 

Once again: such an important decision made by such a renowned athlete is bound to have both criticism and encouragement. As for Roxanne Jones, founding editor of ESPN the Magazine, Williams has allowed “many women of all economic backgrounds, including those in [her] own peer group, [to] re imagine and expand what success looks like in [their] life.” She emphasizes that as a Black woman herself, the player’s dedication, passion, and sheer closeness to perfection have encouraged her to further progress in her own career.

On the other hand,  Journalist William C. Rhoden describes his initial reaction after hearing about Williams’ retirement: “[her] emotional loss marked the end of an era and created a void that would not soon be filled: A Black American player– a Black female player — dominating the deeply entrenched whiteness of a country club sport.” Supposedly, in his eyes, the lack of tennis idols and representation for young Black women who hope to pursue tennis might erase any progress made by the Williams sisters during the past two decades. Luckily, he shapes up his argument toward the end of the opinion piece, describing that “[p]rogress for Black people.. Has always been about climbing mountains. We’ll climb them again.”

Regardless of how others feel about her possibly rash or potentially intelligent resolution, the legacy this world-celebrated athlete has left behind will never be forgotten. Whether that be focusing on her tennis talents, the most prominent of which include winning more Grand Slam singles titles than any other woman or man during the open court era, Williams is inevitably a force to be reckoned with. Considering her company was able to invest in over 71 sponsorships while also working hard in tennis progression, it’s only a matter of time before her fans can see the advancements she will make in the future. Is conquering the world so far behind?

Whether whoever reading this is an aspiring tennis player or simply wants to accomplish something in true Serena Williams fashion, it seems fitting to provide final encouragement with one of her quotes: “I am lucky that whatever fear I have within me, my desire to win is always stronger.”

Good luck Serena, the public cannot wait to see what you will accomplish next.