Serena Williams opens up ahead of last US Open

Serena’s evolution: Williams opens up ahead of FINAL US Open on her new life away from tennis, business, her chances at a comeback, and giving her daughter Olympia, 5, a younger sibling

  • Serena Williams faces Danka Kovinic in the first round of the US Open Monday
  • It could prove to be the final match of her career if she loses and quits tennis
  • She previously said she would evolve away from tennis after the 2022 US Open
  • Williams, 40, is now more focused on business and caring for daughter Olympia
  • The tennis legend says she wants to get Olympia a younger sibling
  • Williams said she’s improving physically but shot down any talk of a comeback 

Serena Williams isn’t retiring so much as reprioritizing.

As she recently told The Wall Street Journal from her luxury Manhattan hotel ahead of her final US Open, tennis is being minimized in favor of her five-year-old daughter, Olympia, and growing list of business interests, which have increasingly monopolized her time.

What she’s not doing — as she has maintained — is retiring.

‘I’m not retiring, I’m just evolving away from tennis and doing something else,’ the 40-year-old Williams told the Journal, echoing statements in Vogue earlier this month, when she announced her plans to leave the professional tour.

But while she’s refused to use the ‘R’ word to describe her transition, she admits tonight’s first-round match against Danka Kovinic could very well be her last. At the very least, the 2022 US Open will be her final grand slam, and unless she wins in Flushing on Monday night, it could be her last chance to play in front of a packed crowd.

Serena Williams prepares for her final US Open this week at the USTA National Tennis Center

Serena Williams holds her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. after showing her clothing line during New York’s Fashion Week in New York

Win or lose, Williams is getting a farewell ceremony at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday night, and the rest of her week will probably be quite busy, either way.

‘I probably should retire, for a few years at least, but for some inane reason I’m not,’ she said.

Currently, as any parent to a five-year-old can attest, her schedule centers around daughter Olympia. That means getting up with her at 7am, regardless of whether Williams is in training or not.

When asked about how Olympia impacts her routines, Williams said: ‘She totally threw a wrench in it, and it’s great.’

Even before becoming a mother, Williams was never big on breakfast, saying she’s never really hungry in the morning.

Things are changing somewhat now that husband and billionaire Reddit co-found Alexis Ohanian has bought the family a farm with some accompanying chickens.

‘So we got some chicks and they grew up and now they’re chickens and I had some of their eggs, and it was really good,’ Williams said.

After Olympia is settled, it’s time for the endless parade of calls and meetings that fill investors’ days.

‘Wake up and go to the office and now that everything went digital, just sit and take calls all day,’ Williams said. ‘Usually when Olympia goes to school, I just go to work. I work-work-work and then I usually pick her up from school.’

Serena Williams celebrates her first US Open title in 1999 after beating Martina Hingis

Williams has vast business interests, including her own venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which raised a reported inaugural fund of $111 million last March. Furthermore, she and sister Venus are both minority owners of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, she’s part owner of a National Women’s Soccer League Team, and she has her own sustainable clothing line, S by Serena.

‘I like to invest in things where I believe in the founder,’ she told the Journal.

When asked for a piece of advice that has helped guide her, Williams said she always puts ‘God first’ and then ‘everything else falls into place.’

The decision to step away was inevitable for Williams, who has not won a major singles tournament since the 2017 Australian Open, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Were she a man, weighing business and competition would be much simpler.

‘Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,’ she wrote earlier this month for Vogue. ‘I don’t think it’s fair. 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. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.

‘A lot of people don’t realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017,’ she continued. ‘But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.’

Alexis Olympia Ohanian, Jr., center, strikes a pose, with mom Serena Williams, right and dad Alexis Ohanian, on the red carpet of the 2021 AFI Fest Gala Premiere of, King Richard, at the TCL Chinese Theatre, in Hollywood, California, Sunday, November 14, 2021

One unexpected problem on her way out the door: Progress.

Williams has struggled with age and injuries in recent years, but recently told Time that she feels she’s finally starting to hit her stride again.

‘I can see my improvement, and I’m like, Dang, I’ll be good in January,’ said Williams, who immediately dismissed the chance of playing in the 2023 Australian Open. ‘I’m not doing that.’

Realistically, another Australian Open just doesn’t fit into her life. 

Williams wants to have another child with Ohanian, largely to give Olympia the camaraderie of a sibling. 

‘When I look at Olympia, I’m really not performing at my peak, by not trying harder to give her that sibling,’ Williams told Time. Coming from a big family, and coming from five, there’s nothing better.’ 

In this file photo taken on January 12, 2020 Serena Williams of the US with her daughter Alexis Olympia after her win against Jessica Pegula of the US during their women’s singles final match during the Auckland Classic tennis tournament in Auckland

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