Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has announced that she will be "evolving away from tennis" after this year's US Open in an apparent confirmation of her imminent retirement.
The 40-year-old made one final bow at Wimbledon earlier this year after recovering from the leg injury which forced her to miss the back end of the 2021 season and the start of 2022.
Williams - who became a mother in 2017 - was eliminated in the first round by Harmony Tan at SW19 in what was expected to be her final appearance at the Grand Slam tournament.
Williams is currently competing at the Canadian Open and defeated Spain's Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in straight sets to advance to the second round on Monday, but she hinted at her retirement in her post-match press conference.
"I guess there's just a light at the end of the tunnel. I don't know, I'm getting closer to the light. Lately that's been it for me. I can't wait to get to that light," Williams explained.
"I can't do this forever. So sometimes you just want to try your best to enjoy the moments and do the best that you can."
Writing in September's issue of Vogue magazine, Williams has now confirmed that she will be stepping away from the court after a trophy-laden career after the upcoming US Open, claiming that "something's got to give" as she approaches her 41st birthday.
"A lot of people don't realize that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give. I've been reluctant to admit that I have to move on from playing tennis. It's like a taboo topic. It comes up, and I start to cry," Williams wrote.
In Vogue's September issue, @serenawilliams prepares to say farewell to tennis on her own terms and in her own words. "It's the hardest thing that I could ever imagine," she says. "I don't want it to be over, but at the same time I'm ready for what's next" https://t.co/6Zr0UXVTH1 pic.twitter.com/YtGtcc18a9— Vogue Magazine (@voguemagazine) August 9, 2022
"I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me. 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.
"There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it's not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It's the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it's not. I'm torn: I don't want it to be over, but at the same time I'm ready for what's next."
Williams has revealed that she has been trying for another baby with husband Alexis Ohanian, and she is not prepared to maintain her professional career while pregnant for a second time.
"In the last year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we're ready, we can add to our family. I definitely don't want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.
"I've made a lot of mistakes in my career. Mistakes are learning experiences, and I embrace those moments. I'm far from perfect, but I've also taken a lot of criticism, and I'd like to think that I went through some hard times as a professional tennis player so that the next generation could have it easier.
"Unfortunately I wasn't ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don't know if I will be ready to win New York. But I'm going to try."
The former world number one will be aiming to win the US Open for the seventh time this year before she steps away from the sport, and she has won a total of 73 singles and 23 doubles titles on the WTA Tour.