Andy Roddick has expressed his shock at the news of Serena Williams’ imminent retirement. The 40-year-old Williams announced on Tuesday that she has made plans to retire from the sport she has ruled for more than two decades.
Roddick and Williams have been good friends since they were eight years old. They even trained together for almost four years in south Florida.
Speaking in a video on Tennis Channel, the former World No. 1 gave his thoughts on Williams’ retirement plans.
“It's weird. You kind of know something's coming, not like immediately, right? I had no inside info on any of this, I think it's been played pretty close to the vest. You know it's not going to go on forever but you're still kind of shocked by the news, not because the actual moment is surprising but because it means the end of something that has been so fantastic and so important to this game of tennis,” Roddick said.
The 39-year-old also touched upon how everyone doubted the Williams sisters in their formative years.
“I was lucky enough to have a front row seat to the Serena show. When I was 9 and 10 years old at Rick Macci Tennis Academy and a lot of what we saw in the King Richard movie, I was right there watching it. Frankly, a lot of us at the Academy were like 'You can't actually become a professional without playing competitive matches and juniors. How ridiculous is that.' Well, guess who was ridiculous?” he stated.
“All of us were second-guessing Venus and Serena for their process. They innovated with this sport, physically with their competitiveness, the way they went about becoming two of the greats of all time. It had never been done before the way that they had done it. Credit to their father Richard for finding a way to give these two, who were girls and now women and icons of our sport, a chance to perform at the highest level. We're all better for it,” he added.
“I am happy that we do get a long goodbye” - Andy Roddick on the timing of Serena Williams’ retirement news
In her letter for Vogue magazine, Serena Williams described how she's opposed to the term ‘retirement’ and that she prefers to label the shift as ‘evolution.’
“I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me. I’ve been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people,” Williams wrote, adding, “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.”
Andy Roddick, who has known Williams for pretty much his entire life, said that while he’s sad to see her retire, he is happy that the tennis world will at least get to give her a fitting, long farewell.
“I’ll miss her as a friend, I’ll miss watching her as a tennis fan and but I am happy that we do get a long goodbye and we're gonna be able to appreciate our greatness for the next month and celebrate everything that she and Venus have meant to this game. Can't be overstated,” he said.
Serena Williams is expected to compete for the final time at the US Open, which begins on August 29.