Serena Williams will retire from professional tennis after the U.S. Open in late August, concluding what will undoubtedly be considered the greatest female tennis career in history. While any successful athlete always gets nostalgic regarding their career coming to a close, Williams is grousing about the decision because she thinks she wouldn’t have to if her gender were different.
In a lengthy article published in Vogue in which Williams articulated her thoughts about retiring, the all-time great complained that her desire to start a family meant that tennis had to go by the wayside, a reality she believes would not exist if she were a man.
“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” she said. “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.”
If this is the the lens through which Williams views her career change, there’s a lot wrong with it.
The first is that she hasn’t chosen between tennis and her family for at least for the past five years. She had her daughter, Olympia, in 2017 and while she did have to take a pause and adjust to life post-pregnancy, she still came back to dominate her competition. There was no “sacrifice one for the other” choice, she had her cake and ate it too for a time.
But life is about tradeoffs for everyone. If you want a family, well women are the only human beings that can get pregnant -- regardless of what the trans cultists say -- so if Williams truly wants to expand her family she has to play her part in that process.
Sure, winning (as of right now) 23 Grand Slam singles titles along with 14 major championships in the doubles division, four Olympic gold medals and a slew of other trophies is great, and nobody can take them away from her. Olympia and any other children Serena welcomes into the world will be proud of her accomplishments. But what will really matter to them is whether or not Serana and her husband, Alexis, were present in their lives. That is a higher and more worthy calling to follow than anything athletics can give you, and not one that should be taken up grudgingly.
So as Williams enters this new chapter of her life, I hope she does so with the same tenacity and drive that made her a successful athlete. But it is sad that she sees it as a change to be grieved, and that tennis is evidently still more important to her.