Serena Williams turns 41 next month. The tennis legend turned professional in 1995 and has been an active tennis player for nearly 27 years. On Tuesday, the American announced that she will hang up her racquet after the upcoming US Open.
Her first of 23 Grand Slam titles came in 1999 at the US Open when she was just 17 years old, while the last was the 2017 Australian Open. As she prepares to participate in a Major for the last time, the icon will aim to go all the way and lift her 24th title to equal Margaret Court's record for the highest number of Grand Slams.
Appearing on the ESPN Daily podcast recently, sports journalist Howard Bryant presented his opinions on the ways in which sportspersons' careers end and what must have gone through Williams' mind while making the decision. Bryant believes that the option of going out on top doesn't seem likely for the star player.
"I always say that there are three ways to retire," Bryant said. "One is when the game retires you, the game is telling you that you can't play anymore. The second is when your body retires you. And then there's the third way, which is when you go out on top. In Serena's case, I don't think that she wants to choose any other door except the third one. But I don't know if the third one is really going to be available to her."
Williams returned to the court at this year's Wimbledon Championships after a year-long layoff due to injury. A lack of match practice resulted in her first-round exit as she lost to Harmony Tan of France in three sets. Bryant opined that having not played a full season in years, it was too much to ask the 40-year-old to put in so much effort throughout the year.
"Clearly, what she wants more than anything else is that 24th Major. But we know that she hasn't played a full season in years. You really cannot expect a tennis player at the age of 40 to give that much effort across the season," Bryant added.
Serena Williams faces 2R exit at the Canadian Open
In preparation for the US Open, former World No. 1 Serena Williams entered the National Bank Open in Montreal using her protected ranking. She defeated Spain's Nuria Parrizas-Diaz in the first round and registered her first match win since the 2021 French Open 430 days ago.
The stalwart was looking to win her fourth title in Canada, but 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic of Switzerland had other plans. The 25-year-old broke Williams thrice and won in straight sets. Tears rolled down the American's cheeks as she walked off the court. Her next assignment is the Cincinnati Masters next week.