On Tuesday, Serena Williams announced she will step away from tennis to focus on growing her family. It's not a decision the tennis star came to easily.
In an essay for Vogue, Williams, 40, said she "never wanted to have to choose between tennis and family."
"I don't think it's fair," Williams wrote. "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. Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity."
Williams clarified that she loves being a woman and loved "every second" of her pregnancy with her daughter Olympia, 4.
"I was one of those annoying women who adored being pregnant and was working until the day I had to report to the hospital—although things got super complicated on the other side," Williams wrote, referencing her near-death experience after giving birth.
The 23-time Grand Slam winner continued, "And I almost did do the impossible: 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."
Williams revealed she has been "reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis."
"It’s like a taboo topic," Williams wrote in the essay of her emotional decision, sharing she and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, have "hardly" talked about retirement. "I can’t even have this conversation with my mom and dad. It’s like it’s not real until you say it out loud. It comes up, I get an uncomfortable lump in my throat, and I start to cry."
Williams shared that she and her husband have been trying for a second child "in the last year."
"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," Williams wrote, adding, "I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out."
In the essay, Williams also shared she was not always "confident or comfortable" around babies, but prides herself on being a hands-on mother to Olympia.
"In five years, Olympia has only spent one 24-hour period away from me," she wrote, adding that the little girl prays for a little sister before bed sometimes.
"I’m the youngest of five sisters myself, and my sisters are my heroes," Williams wrote. "So this has felt like a moment I need to listen very carefully to."