The U.S. Open, one of the four major tennis championships, was recently held in New York City. It was also the place where Serena Williams, one of the finest tennis players of all time, decided to put up the tennis racket and retire. Over an outstanding 27-year career, Williams has amassed 23 Grand Slam titles and four Olympic Gold Medals, and she held the No. 1 ranking for a total of 319 weeks. Williams and  her sister, Venus, are credited with paving the way for a new generation of female tennis players. She is regarded as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Williams embodies the definition of the perfect athlete, somebody who is so unbelievably good at their sport, that they serve as a role model to all those around them.

The Williams sisters were raised in Compton, CA, and were originally trained by their parents, Richard Williams and Oracene Price. They then continued their training at the Rick Macci Academy in West Palm Beach, Florida, which ultimately led the sisters to turn professional. The life of the Williams family was brought to the screen in the Academy Award winning biographical drama film, “King Richard,” released in 2021.

Throughout her career, Williams has faced many challenges, specifically knee injuries, which have kept her off the court for some time. Back in 2020, Williams pulled out of the French Open due to an achilles injury. Later, in December 2021, Williams injured her hamstring and had to withdraw from the 2022 Australian Open. In September 2017, Williams and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, welcomed a daughter. Williams faced medical complications from the delivery, which delayed her return to professional tennis. Williams’ last major championship was at the 2017 Australian Open, which she won while pregnant. Ajla Tomljanovic defeated Williams in 3 sets at the 2022 US Open, thus ending her quest for a 24th Grand Slam title, which is still held by Margaret Court. Williams bid farewell to the fans at the US Open, which, in 1999,  she shocked the world by defeating world No. 1 Martina Hingis for her first Grand Slam Title

Off the court, Williams has an extensive involvement in a wide variety of sponsorships, business ventures, and philanthropic causes. The Serena Williams Fund and the Williams Sisters Fund were both established for philanthropic reasons, with Venus Williams co-founding the latter. The sisters also purchased a minority stake in the Miami Dolphins of the NFL in 2009. Serena Williams’ main sponsors are Nike for athletic wear and Wilson for tennis gear. All her sponsorships and prize money resulted in her being one of the highest paid athletes of all time. 

Williams’ retirement comes at no shock to the sports world, however, it is still a difficult pill to swallow. Many people have paid tribute to Williams’ career, honoring her for her dominance on the court, including Naomi Osaka, who stated that “she would not be playing tennis if it weren’t for her.” Williams has talked about the difficulty of trying to manage tennis and motherhood, as she said in an interview with CNN, “Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and family. I don’t think it’s fair.” Serena WIlliams has been an inspiration to people of all ages both on and off the court. Her pure talent and tenacity prove that she is truly one of the greatest of all time.