Tennis

Serena Williams says she regrets not experiencing the ‘evolution’ of retirement sooner

Serena Williams claims she should have retired a decade ago after experiencing a personal evolution since publicly announcing her decision to quit tennis. 

The legendary sportswoman served her final ball at the US Open in September after crashing out in three straight sets against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović. 

And she admits, albeit with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, that her retirement should have come years ago because giving up the profession has given her an opportunity to ‘enjoy’ life. 

New adventures: Serena Williams claims she should have retired a decade ago after experiencing a personal evolution since publicly announcing her decision to quit tennis

Appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Tuesday evening, Williams, 40, also revealed she was uncharacteristically nervous after announcing her retirement plans to Vogue in August. 

She said: ‘The whole time, I was stressed out, I thought I was going to be really miserable and scared with this whole article coming out.

‘You have to think I have been playing tennis since I was literally in a stroller. There is a picture of Venus pushing me in a stroller.

‘For me to suddenly have to be done it was like well this is a big thing. When it came out, I was actually relieved. I didn’t expect to feel that way but I felt good.’

All over: The legendary sportswoman served her final ball at the US Open in September after crashing out in three straight sets against Australia's Ajla Tomljanović

All over: The legendary sportswoman served her final ball at the US Open in September after crashing out in three straight sets against Australia’s Ajla Tomljanović

Joke: And she admits, albeit with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, that her retirement should have come years ago because giving up the profession has given her an opportunity to 'enjoy' life

Joke: And she admits, albeit with tongue-firmly-in-cheek, that her retirement should have come years ago because giving up the profession has given her an opportunity to ‘enjoy’ life 

She added: ‘I should have done it ten years ago. I always thought that at the end of it, I would just leave quietly and not say anything and just make an announcement on social media.’  

The tennis icon is now looking at fresh options, with her retirement freeing up more time to spend on her personal interests, professional concerns and family – primarily fiver-year old daughter Alexis, her only child with husband Alexis Ohanian. 

She said: ‘I always feel like I feel retirement is something that’s super earned and that people work really hard for and maybe I haven’t.

‘I just feel like I’m at an age where I definitely feel I have a lot more to give and there’s a lot more that I want to do. So I’m not going to be relaxing. There is so much more for me. I feel it’s more of an evolution of Serena.’

She added: ‘There are so many things that I’ve been wanting to do for so many years,’ Serena added. ‘I have had such a passion for tennis for so long that I have never done it. Now it’s time for me to start to enjoy those things.’ 

Moving on: The tennis icon is now looking at fresh options, with her retirement freeing up more time to spend on her personal interests, professional concerns and family

Moving on: The tennis icon is now looking at fresh options, with her retirement freeing up more time to spend on her personal interests, professional concerns and family 

Despite relishing her free time, Williams admits she wrestled with the the idea of retirement before finally making her decision – but initially refused to tell anyone of her plans to step away from tennis. 

‘In the beginning, I literally couldn’t tell anyone,’ Serena said. ‘Verbalizing it meant that it was real and I’m like I don’t want it to be real. I don’t think you really know until, I don’t know, until you say it.’  

Williams also revealed she was given a reality check while competing at Wimbledon for the last time, during which she crashed out to French player Harmony Tan in the first round.

‘I was heavy,’ she said. ‘I was heavy for months. I don’t know if you knew my energy but I was just so heavy, and I just wasn’t even rocking out the way I wanted to rock out.’  

Dilemma: Despite relishing her free time, Williams admits she wrestled with the the idea of retirement before finally making her decision - but initially refused to tell anyone of her plans

Dilemma: Despite relishing her free time, Williams admits she wrestled with the the idea of retirement before finally making her decision – but initially refused to tell anyone of her plans

Private: 'In the beginning, I literally couldn't tell anyone,' Serena said. 'Verbalizing it meant that it was real and I'm like I don't want it to be real'

Private: ‘In the beginning, I literally couldn’t tell anyone,’ Serena said. ‘Verbalizing it meant that it was real and I’m like I don’t want it to be real’ 

The end: Williams also revealed she was given a reality check while competing at Wimbledon for the last time, during which she crashed out to French player Harmony Tan

The end: Williams also revealed she was given a reality check while competing at Wimbledon for the last time, during which she crashed out to French player Harmony Tan 

For now, the former player plans to focus on her Serena Ventures investment business while continuing her endeavors as a children’s author – including new book The Adventures of Qai Qai, scheduled for release on September 27.

‘Giving everyone an opportunity,’ she said. ‘Really just investing in founders. That’s the mission that we started and we are keeping it up.’

‘That’s what The Adventures of Qai Qai is all about, that you can do anything.’  

Fallon asked if there was a chance of her pulling a ‘Tom Brady’ and maybe coming back, referencing the legendary NFL quarterback who returned to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season after announcing his retirement earlier this year.

‘You know, Tom Brady started an amazing trend,’ Serena joked.

Footwear change: The tennis legen swapped out her heels for sneakers while grabbing a bite with her pals

Footwear change: The tennis legen swapped out her heels for sneakers while grabbing a bite with her pals

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