2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Illustration by Megan Koch

Serena Williams announces retirement after illustrious career

By Sheroog Kubur, September 1 2022

On August 9, Serena Williams announced her plans for retirement following the U.S Open in September. The announcement was made through a Vogue letter reflecting not on her career, but on her evolution as a tennis player, businesswoman and mother. By this point, Williams is a household name for not only her tennis career but also as the symbol of strength. She has always let her skills and achievements speak for themselves, but outside the court she’s a vision of resilience. 

“Over the years, I hope that people come to think of me as symbolizing something bigger than tennis,” she wrote in the letter. 

Aside from her immense humility, Williams has always been bigger than her tennis career. Her most impressive achievements are not the 23 Grand Slams she’s won or the fact that she was the first Black woman to win the Australian Open, but the circumstances surrounding each of them. She took up space in places where she was vilified, but her skill never wavered. Even when she has been the target of racist and sexist remarks, she persevered. 

“I’ve built a career on channeling anger and negativity and turning it into something good,” Williams wrote while reflecting on her career. 

The 2001 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, United States, saw one of the most aggressive responses to Williams in her entire career. The incident resulted in her, Venus and father Richard Williams being accused of match fixing but persisted with relentless racially charged attacks. Richard Williams recounts hearing “I wish it was ‘75; we’d skin you alive.” The family boycotted the event for nearly a decade afterwards, but it only highlights what Williams has had to face her career. Despite being incredibly accomplished and undoubtedly one of the best players in the game, she’s still victim to prejudices. 

Her victory at the 2007 Australian Open was shrouded in contempt — she was mocked for her weight and rough start to the match. This was her return following the passing of her half sister and former assistant, Yetunde Price. Her ankle and knee injuries in 2005 left her unable to play until 2007, injuries that would also cost her notoriety in the world rankings as she fell to number 81. But, she came out on top and won her eighth slam. This is one of the most memorable moments of Williams’ career because it showed off what made her such a force to be reckoned with. She turned those negative experiences and comments into fuel for her craft and managed to not only win, but add another achievement to her belt. 

One of her more recent accomplishments was the 2017 Australian Open. Not many players can say that they’ve won the slam without losing a single match, and even fewer can say that they’ve won a slam while eight weeks pregnant. While Williams admits that she considers pregnancy to be fun in her letter, she still proves herself to be a once in a lifetime player. 

Williams’ journey was always meant to be more than tennis from the start. She wasn’t a prodigy who was able to easily coast through her career but a child passionate about the sport. All her advancements were a result of incredible tenacity that she learned over the course of her youth. She credits her sister, Venus, as one of the major reasons she was able to accomplish as much as she did.

“I followed her around the world and watched her. When [Venus] lost, I understood why, and I made sure I wouldn’t lose the same way. That’s how I started to move so fast up the rankings, because I learned the lessons from Venus’s losses instead of the hard way, from my own,” she said about how her sister aided her in her journey in her letter. 

Her story has something that everyone can relate to. Whether it be a tale of pushing against the odds and remaining dedicated to your passions or one of taking up space in a field where they’d rather you be on the sidelines, she is an inspiration. In her Vogue letter, she says that she will be focusing more on her business ventures and motherhood. She will undoubtedly take these challenges by the reins and command them with the same grace she’s had with tennis. Williams is one of a kind and the world cannot wait to see where she goes next.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet