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Serena Williams Retires From Tennis at 40 To Grow Her Family

One of the most iconic tennis legends of all time, Serena Williams, has announced her plan to retire from the tennis world following the US Open happening in late August until early September. Since her career began in 1997, Williams has won 23 singles Grand Slam titles, only one less than retired Australian player Margaret Court, and has also been awarded 14 Grand Slam doubles titles as well as 3 Olympic gold medals when playing alongside her older sister, Venus Williams. However, after welcoming her daughter Alexis Olympia Jr. in 2017, Williams has decided to move on from her career as a professional athlete in order to focus on expanding her family with her husband, Alexis Ohanian.

While we must celebrate the incredible achievements that Serena Williams has made over the past 20+ years as a trailblazing African-American, female athlete, the double standard between men and women in professional sports has naturally been discussed in relation to why Williams is retiring sooner than fans expected. Considering that she won her last Grand Slam only 5 years ago, while pregnant with her daughter, female sports writers and journalists across the country have been asking the same question: if Serena Williams, the greatest female athlete of our generation, is not able to balance having a successful career and raising a family, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

In an interview with Vogue, Serena divulged many personal details about her thought process regarding abandoning her sport for a family, saying “Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. 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.” However, this statement comes as no shock, with the modern world of movies and TV shows constantly illustrating the stark difference in societal expectations between men and women. When it comes to prioritizing a family over a career, the expectation for women is that having children should always come before a career, whereas a man should always focus on his career in order to provide for a family. Despite the stifling conventional gender roles, Williams expressed that she doesn’t want to see her retirement as a “retirement” per se, but rather as an “evolution” that embodies “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to [her].” 

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