Serena Williams has said that she is "evolving away from tennis" and planning to retire from the sport she dominated with 23 Grand Slam titles following the US Open, which begins later this month.
"I have never liked the word retirement," Williams wrote in a Vogue article on Tuesday. "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.
On Monday, Williams played only her second singles match since she returned to action at Wimbledon in June after a year-long absence from competition, beating Spain's Nuria Parrizas Diaz to reach the second round of the Toronto Open.
But the 40-year-old said after that match that she could see the light at the end of the tennis tunnel in her career.
"A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family."
A 'different direction'
Williams won her last Grand Slam in 2017 and has been chasing an elusive 24th crown that will draw her level with Margaret Court who holds the record for the most majors.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I'm really not thinking about her. If I'm in a Slam final, then yes, I'm thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn't help," she said.
Williams later said in an Instagram post that it was time to move in a "different direction."
"...[T]he countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I'm gonna relish these next few weeks."
Williams announced herself on the grandest stage by winning the 1999 US Open, a tournament she would go on to claim five more times.
In a storied career during which she dominated rivals like no other athlete, she also claimed seven Australian Open titles, three French Open titles and seven Wimbledon crowns.
Williams also owns 14 women's Grand Slam doubles titles with older sister Venus and has won four Olympic gold medals: singles (2012), doubles (2000, 2008, 2012).
"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... And I'm going to miss you."