The American Serena Williams signed, Monday, August 8 in the first round of the Toronto tournament, her first victory of the year, six weeks after her missed return to Wimbledon. It was also his first victory since June 4, 2021 and his 3e winning lap at Roland-Garros.
But, beyond this statistic, it is above all a little sentence dropped the day after this match by the former world number one, which caught the attention. In the magazine vogueshe announces that she will be stepping away from tennis after the US Open (August 29 to September 11).
While pointing out that she doesn’t like the word ” retirement “the player, who turns 41 on September 26, says she will be heading to “other things that are important to [elle] ». ” The countdown has begun “she also wrote, in a post on her Instagram account.
“There comes a time in life when you have to decide to take a new route. It’s always a difficult moment when you love what you do so much. And God I love tennis”explains the American, saying she wants “to focus on her role as a mother, her spiritual goals to discover a new but equally exciting Serena”.
In February 2021, in Melbourne, Serena Williams had however assured: “If one day I say goodbye, I won’t tell anyone.” Eliminated in the semi-finals by the Japanese Naomi Osaka a little earlier, she had made a gesture towards the crowd, her hand on her heart, which had opened the way to speculation.
One length short of Margaret Court’s titles record
“I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win in New York. But I will try “, she also says. In London, Serena Williams, had been eliminated in the first round by the Frenchwoman Harmony Tan.
The American, who was returning from injury (she injured her hamstrings in her right leg on June 29, 2021 at Wimbledon) had been invited to the London lawn, her current ranking (1,204e world before the tournament) no longer allowing him to integrate the main draw of a Grand Slam, or even the qualifications.
New York promises to be a great outcome: Serena Williams has won 6 of her 23 titles there (in singles) in the Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, Roland-Garros, Wimbledon, US Open).
With these 23 titles, however, she will remain one length away from the record held by Australian Margaret Court (between 1960 and 1973, before the Open era), behind which she has run, in vain, since her victory at the Open d Australia in 2017 – two months pregnant.
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to break that record. Of course I want it. But everyday, I don’t think about her [Court]. In the Grand Slam tournament final, I think about it, about this record. I probably even thought about it too much, and it didn’t help me.”recognize the player. Regretting having, unlike her male counterparts, “Had to choose between tennis and having a family”.
She had resumed competition after her maternity in the spring of 2018 to equal this record. Four times since then, she has reached the final (Wimbledon and US Open in 2018 and 2019), but without managing to lift a 24e trophy, overtaken by pressure and injuries.
“Not very good at goodbyes”
“It doesn’t matter the number, 23, 24, 25… what matters is that I give everything on the court and no matter what I do, in the end I will have signed a great career anyway”, she said in 2018.
In this case, Serena Williams is the only one, men and women combined, to have won all the Grand Slam titles as well as the Olympic Games, both in singles and doubles.
“I know there is a fan fantasy that I could have matched Margaret” this year at Wimbledon, “then maybe break his record in New York, then at the awards ceremony, say ‘See you! ”. I understand, it’s a beautiful dream! But I’m not looking for a ceremony, or a last moment on the pitch. I suck at goodbyes, the worst in the world”she confides.
Before launching to his fans: “but know that I am more grateful to you than I can ever express in words”.
Serena Williams in numbers
23 The number of Grand Slam tournaments won, in singles, by Serena Williams, a record in the Open era (7 wins at the Australian Open, 7 Wimbledon, 6 US Open, 3 Roland-Garros), for 14 in double.
94 The number of finals disputed by Serena Williams on the circuit, for 73 titles in total, the last in Auckland in 2020.
319 The number of weeks the American has spent in the world number one chair, just over six years, behind Martina Navratilova (332 weeks) and Steffi Graf (377).