Serena Williams’ retirement is getting tougher


When Serena Williams was given a chance to clarify her retirement schedule after extending her career at least one more match with… First round victory at the US Open on MondayI bravely ignored the question.

“You were pretty vague about that, right?” Williams said with a chuckle. “I’ll keep it a mystery because you never know.”

However, Williams has followed a well-established pattern in the elite ranks of professional tennis: there he is There is no pattern when it comes to retirement.

For some heroes, the decision was dictated by injury; The body simply fails them.

For others, there is something fundamental that shrivels at heart – the compulsion to pay and punish themselves daily for staying on top.

Serena Williams, master of her mind and body, summons the determination of a hero

For others, the decision is messy and fraught with guesswork. Some days, they are sure they have been taken advantage of; Other days, the competitive rush returns. And the question becomes: Why exactly do I quit when I can still play great tennis and, perhaps occasionally, outshine the best?

At this year’s US Open, Williams’ expected retirement was delayed by one stunning performance after another to raucous cheers from the record star-studded crowd.

At number 605, the 40-year-old Williams opened the tournament with straight sets from 80th-ranked Danka Kovinic who nearly quadrupled the ESPN rankings over the previous year. After that, she Take down world number 2 Annette KontaveitShe is 26, and she was three when Williams won her first World Open title of 23 Grand Slam titles in 1999 at the US Open.

Serena Williams fans celebrate the US Open tennis stars’ victory over second seed Annette Kontaveit in New York on August 31 (Video: Reuters)

Everyone is enjoying Williams’ career comeback—except, of course, the women across the network. It could all come down to magic if Williams isn’t the most fierce competitor in the game, so she’s skilled at beating odds, weathering the swings of momentum and calling on her best when things look bleak.

Williams has never lacked self-confidence. Now, buoyed by the momentum and the crowd’s obsession with lung-rupturing, fist-pumping New York, only the daredevils will count it out against Friday’s third-round contender, Aja Tomljanovic, or any subsequent contender. And it might just make her question the wisdom of walking away when she can beat the big guys.

At this point, 14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras was out of control as he walked away at the height of his power.

The most dominant player of his era, big-hitting Sampras never again competed after ousting his greatest rival, Andre Agassi, to win the 2002 US Open.

The decision still stuns his former coach Paul Anconi, himself a former player, decades later.

Anacon recalled in a recent interview: “For Pete, he finally came to the conclusion one day and said, ‘I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but I’m done. I have finished.'”

“I said that He. She? ‘Win the US Open and never play again. I don’t know how to do it. How is that even possible? But everyone is different. No matter how successful you are or not, everyone does it differently.”

Without older sister Venus, Serena Williams’ story would not have been told

Tennis fans of an earlier era were shocked by the retirement of Bjorn Borg when he was just 26 years old. The 11-time Grand Slam champion was a world rock star – a shy, shaggy Swede who hit the fans the moment he won the first match. Among his six French Open titles just days after turning 18.

Borg also sparked a fierce rivalry with young John McEnroe, whose game and temperament were his opposite. But by his mid-twenties, Borg had lost all his joy in the game he once loved and quit with one difficulty after losing the 1981 US Open final.

The tennis world mourned, then mourned again when Borg’s comeback attempts in the early 1990s vanished without a victory.

Fast forward to 30 years, and tennis stunned with another retirement last spring, when he was world number one Ashleigh Barty announced via Instagram that she’s been turning 25After I achieved everything I dreamed of.

“There is no right way, there is no wrong way. It’s just my way, and it’s perfect for me to share with you that I’m retiring from tennis,” Barty said on her site.

This was, in fact, the second time in Barty’s short and illustrious career that she had given up tennis. The first came at the age of 18 after realizing that the weight of expectations as a little miracle and the difficulty of traveling far from home had taken her away from her joy.

After spending nearly two years playing competitive cricket, Barty returned to tennis and won the 2019 French Open, Wimbledon 2021, and in what proved to be the culmination of her career, 2022 Australian Openbecoming the first Australian woman to win her home major in 44 years.

Barty later told WTA Insider, “When you’ve been working for 20 years for something and finally making it happen, I’m thinking, ‘What else is there? What more can this sport do for me? What more can I gain from exercising? “

Unlike Borg, Barty’s decision seemed to be rooted in personal complacency and eagerness to get on with life. Four months later, she married her longtime boyfriend, Australian professional golfer Gary Kesick.

“A lot of athletes are retiring, and they haven’t built a future for themselves. And I think you’ve seen a lot of depressed retired athletes,” said Chris Evert, a member of the Hall of Fame, who waited until after she retired in 1989 to start a family.

“…For me, once I retired, it felt like I was on vacation every day for a while. I really realized how much pressure was put on the tennis player and how much I didn’t have to be so intense. I didn’t have to be tense and have that knot in my stomach every single day. A day. And then you have kids, and then it’s all about them. And there’s fun. It’s like, ‘Whoa, there’s joy in your life.'”

Williams made global headlines in August for her disclosure in Fashion cover story She was “evolving away from tennis” as her 41st birthday approached.

One of the sport’s great champions who revolutionized the game, Williams has long past the mark of not having anything to prove. She pointed out the importance of wanting to have a second child at this stage.

Even if she makes an unlikely late march into the second week of the tournament, as Jimmy Connors did when she reached the semi-finals of the 1991 US Open at the age of 39, Williams may stray from this year’s US Open with the question of her retirement date exactly. without an answer.

For some time, fans have been preparing for the inevitable retirement of Federer, 41, who brought unparalleled agility to men’s tennis.

The widely esteemed Swiss champion was given a standing ovation for simply entering the center court in a suit and tie as part of July’s celebration of the centenary of Wimbledon in his current location.

Federer hasn’t competed since then Losing straight sets to 14th seed Hubert Hurkacz In the quarter-finals of Wimbledon 2021, which was hardly a fit for his Hall of Fame career. But after three knee surgeries, it is not clear when or even if Federer, now a father of four, will compete again.

Evert, who won 18 singles titles at the Grand Slam, remembers retiring a largely internal decision, previously shared with few people other than her then-husband, Andy Mill, and her agent. Feeling increasingly fatigued after 17 years on the Pro Tour, Evert decided she would compete in one final season, visit all the cities she had fixed in her agenda, and walk away after the 1989 US Open.

After being sent off by Zina Garrison in the quarter-finals, the two hugged the net, and Evert waved as they walked off the field together.

“It was very different that day,” remembers Everett, who is now an analyst at ESPN. “I mean, like I just waved and walked off the field, and that was it.”

Reflecting on past events, she said she wished she had enjoyed the moment a little more and shared her feelings with fans. But that wasn’t her way, and it wasn’t her motive at the time.

“After the loss, I kind of wanted to get off the field,” Evert said. “And there [was] No fuss or anything. No parties. nothing.”

With that, she finished the greatest competition in the sport.

For 16 years, she and Martina Navratilova have measured each other — physically, tactically and psychologically — in 80 games on clay, turf and hard court. Navratilova finished by 43-37.

Years later, that wasn’t the only distinction Evert remembered from her friend Navratilova who continued to compete in singles until 1994 and back in doubles in 2000.

While Evert retired without fanfare, Navratilova got the full star treatment when she played her last singles match – a first-round loss to Gabriella Sabatini at the WTA Championships at Madison Square Garden.

Then 38 and the women’s record holder for a total of weeks (332) at the top of the WTA rankings, Navratilova was honored with a brilliant park retirement party and awarded Harley-Davidson.

“I was a little jealous of it,” Everett remembers, laughing. “Not because I wanted a motorcycle – but I would have settled.”

I suggested a ‘necklace’. Diamond Series.

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