The sporting world is coming to terms with no longer seeing Serena Williams on a tennis court as tributes have flooded after she announced her retirement from the game Tuesday.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion has called time on her career, announcing her decision in next month’s Vogue, although a firm date on when she will go has not been confirmed.
The news comes after the American superstar recorded her first win in 430 days but she said in the article: ‘It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.’
Adoring and emotional tennis fans have taken to social media to honor the 40-year-old, describing her as the ‘Greatest Of All Time’.
One wrote: ‘Wow, I got emotional reading this. You are retiring as the GOAT,’ while another added: ‘GOAT’ and one just responded with several goat emojis.
The official Twitter account of the Olympics paid tribute to the outgoing star, writing: ‘Champion. Inspiration. Legend. The sport will miss you, Serena.’
Serena Williams announced her retirement from tennis Tuesday with last game imminent
Tennis fans hailed the 23-time Grand Slam champion as the ‘Greatest Of All Time’
The official Twitter account of the Olympics paid tribute to the outgoing star
Williams’s retirement is not immediate. As she revealed in her piece, Williams is still hopeful she can play at the US Open in New York later this month. She’s also committed to playing at next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
‘Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,’ she wrote. ‘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.’
Williams isn’t looking for the kind of ‘farewell’ tour that many male athletes have enjoyed before their imminent retirements.
Williams announced her imminent retirement, in part, because she wants to spend more time with daughter Olympia (right), in next month’s Vogue
Instead, the younger half of the famed Williams Sisters thanked fans in her piece and admitted that she’s going to miss the game – and the person she once was.
‘But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment,’ she continued. ‘I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.’
Other fans expressed gratitude for what she has done, with one saying: ‘Trying to find the words, to describe how I’m feeling, on hearing the news of your retirement. I’ll just say thank you. Thank you for being an inspiration for those that came after you. Thank you for your strength and courage, and staying true to who you are.’
Adoring and emotional fans took time to pay tribute to the American superstar with many thanking her for what she has done
SERENA’S INCREDIBLE SINGLES HONORS LIST
US Open: 6 titles (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Wimbledon: 7 (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016)
Australian Open: 7 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017)
French Open: 3 (2002, 2013, 2015)
Olympic Games: Gold, 2012
319 weeks as World No. 1
Prize money: $94,524,403 (1st in all-time rankings)
One put it simply, writing: ‘Thank you @serenawilliams for everything,’ with another adding: ‘We love you, @serenawilliams – thanks for all you have given us. Excited for your next chapter.’
Meanwhile one fan could not hold in the emotion as he admitted to ‘sobbing’ at the news. ‘A beautiful photo to be sure. I’m not sure everyone’s ready for the reading material though. I’m not crying – I’m sobbing. It’s different.’
Williams not only wants to spend more time with her husband, Alexis, and their five-year-old, Olympia, but the 23-time Grand Slam singles winner revealed that the couple is trying to have another child in the near future.
‘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,’ Williams wrote. ‘I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.’
Williams’ swansong could be at the US Open at Flushing Meadows later this month.
In a post on her Instagram page Tuesday, she said: ‘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. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovery a different, just exciting Serena.
‘I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.’