Serena Williams is getting vulnerable about what retirement is like for her. In a frank tweet she shared on Dec. 28, the recently retired 41-year-old tennis star admitted that not constantly being on the go or preparing for her next match isn’t easy. “I’m currently allowing myself to be tired. Allowing myself To relax. Allowing myself to just be. It’s harder than I ever imagined,” she wrote. “I’ve never allowed myself to do any of that before…”
I’m currently allowing myself to be tired. Allowing myself To relax. Allowing myself to just be. It’s harder than I ever imagined. I’ve never allowed myself to do any of that before…
— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) December 28, 2022
Her comment section was immediately flooded with messages of support and solidarity. Former President & Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Sherrilyn Ifill, said she fully understands what Serena is going through. “I understand this deeply. Shutting down the ‘adrenaline lifestyle’ is incredibly difficult and takes longer than we imagined. It’s a process, and we must be kind to ourselves as we navigate it,” she wrote. Celebrity doctor Dr. Jen Caudle gave Serena some additional advice. “Take it one day at a time. Allow yourself to feel all the feelings. This may be a new existence for you, so it’s understandable how you feel,” she said. Several others also urged Serena to give herself grace as she adjusts to her new normal.
Serena announced her retirement in a heartfelt essay for Vogue in August, ahead of the US Open. “I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me,” she penned. “I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people. 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.”
She also noted that her 5-year-old daughter Olympia wants a younger sister, and she was at the point in life where she needed to choose between her passion or growing her family. “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,” she wrote. “Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.” Serena shares Olympia with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.
Serena’s last professional tennis match came via the third round of the US Open in September when she lost to Ajla Tomljanović of Australia. Following her loss, she gave an emotional speech in which she shouted out her older sister, Venus Williams. “I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus. She’s the only reason Serena Williams ever existed,” she said as the audience cheered her on. Serena played in her first US Open in 1998 and won for the first time in 1999.
Serena’s tweet came a few hours after she revealed on Instagram that she surprised her daughter with a Moana-themed party just for fun. Alongside a few snapshots of Olympia at her party with her doting parents, Serena wrote, “Sometimes we surprise @olympiaohanian with parties. We don’t need a reason or a special occasion we make everyday as special and memorable as we can.” How sweet!