Save the last dance, New York. Get free for Serena Williams’ last dance, the last roar of the Panther, the last dream of the strongest tennis player in history and the most famous athlete mom in the world, the activist and the queen of social media, the businesswoman and the red carpet celebrity who after months of hopes and disappointments, of exits and returns to tennis has finally decided: the US Open, which will begin at the end of August, three weeks after her 41st birthday, will be her last tournament. Where her legend began in 1999, her history as a tennis player will also end.
“I never liked the word retreat,” she wrote herself in Vogue, under the very glamorous image of her daughter Alexis Olympia holding the train of an authentic diva dress on the beach. “Perhaps the best word to describe what I am doing is evolution. I am here to tell you that I am evolving away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me. A few years ago I started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after, I started a family. I want to raise that family. “
The heart of a mother beating the warrior instinct of the court – “Princess Wakanda”, as she liked to be called when she took the field, alternating charming tulle with “scandalous” catwoman latex catsuits. The last of her of her 23 Slam tournaments for her Serena she won in 2016 in Australia, when she already knew she was pregnant with her. After a sabbatical, she came back hoping to add the last pearl to her never-ending collection of triumphs and achievements – 73 tournaments won, seven centers at Wimbledon, 94 million dollars in prize money and 250 in estimated fortune, for years the highest-paid female athlete. of the planet – and equalize the blessed (and somewhat foolish) record of 24 Slam that belongs to Margaret Court: great champion but small woman, bigoted and homophobic, the exact opposite of Serena.
So far it has always gone wrong, four finals and zero titles; the first to say no in a sensational way, just at the Us Open was also Roberta Vinci in the semifinal of 2015, the most unpredictable of the defeats, one of the most painful, because she arrived at home and because she broke the dream a few steps from the woolen thread Grand Slam, the holy grail of tennis. Seven years ago, another era.
In the meantime, the “other Serena” has grown dramatically. The former girl from the Compton ghetto, Los Angeles, who with her sister Venus, who was also an over-champion, before her, trained on public fields dodging the bullets of the gangs, and who in 2004 made history by signing a record contract with Nike (40 million for five years), transformed over the years into a champion of civil rights, sided in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement.
But also an entrepreneur of great flair, invited to the meetings of Goldman & Sachs, Chief Sporting Officer of Aston Martin, co-owner of the Miami Dolphins fashion designer, founder of companies that invest in women’s work and which today are worth 1 billion dollars. The story of her family “programmed” for tennis by her father Richard was told by Hollywood (“King Richard”), since she was 3 years old and touched a ball of lives for the first time, she has lived a thousand, risking even a couple for an embolism and in the labor of childbirth, trying to remember them all is like condemning Gargantua to a consommé. «I like to think that thanks to me the athletes today can be themselves. Play aggressively and beat your fists, wear what they want, say what they want, and be proud of it all. ” She told Vogue that days ago she was listening to her daughter – 5 years old and already a social profile and a bank account as a global influencer – answering questions from an educational app. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” “. Answer: “An older sister.” And there, if you want to believe those who have not only always believed in fairy tales, but also contributed to writing them, the decision was made. For months with her husband, the web millionaire Alexis Ohanian, creator of Reddit, has been thinking of giving a little sister to “AO”.
More than the injuries, the repeated stops, the defeats not very in tune with his past like the one against the modest French Tan at the last Wimbledon, in short, he was able to call the blood. “I never wanted to have to choose between family and tennis”, he explained, not missing the opportunity to unleash his side as a champion of working moms, working mothers: “If I had been a man, the problem would not have been place, because at home there would be a wife to take care of the house and the family. Maybe I would have been a Tom Brady. I have always struggled to deal with the idea of leaving tennis, when it happened I started to cry. I’ll miss you, that little girl who only played tennis. I don’t know if I’ll be ready to win in New York this year. But I will try it”. The world would do well to prepare. Also to what Serena will be able to become in the next life. –