Serena Williams indicated she will be stepping away from her tennis career soon.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion elaborated on her thoughts in a first-person essay for Vogue magazine on Tuesday, suggesting that the U.S. Open — set for Aug. 29 through Sept. 11 in New York — could be her final tournament.

In an Instagram post sharing her cover story for Vogue, Williams cited several reasons for the decision: “I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena.” 

Williams discussed the difficulty in making this decision and why she doesn’t like the word “retirement” — “It doesn’t feel like a modern word to me,” she said — while choosing the word “evolution” to best describe where her life is headed.

“I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me. A few years ago I quietly started Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm. Soon after that, I started a family. I want to grow that family,” Williams said in her Vogue essay.

“But I’ve been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. Alexis (Ohanian), my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it’s like a taboo topic. 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.”

She continued: “The only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist! One thing I’m not going to do is sugarcoat this. I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way.”

Williams’ announcement comes on the heels of her first win in 14 months — she is currently playing at the Canadian Open and advanced to the second round on Monday. 

Williams, 40, is also scheduled to play at the Western & Southern Open next, according to ESPN, and she remains on the early entry list for the U.S. Open

In her career, Williams has claimed 73 career singles titles, 23 career doubles titles and more than $94 million in career winnings, per Sports Illustrated.

Her 23 Grand Slam singles titles is an open era record, and just one shy of the Margaret Court’s all-time record. She implied she would compete at the U.S. Open, where she’s won six singles titles, the last coming in 2014.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams said in the essay. “And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York. But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.

“I know there’s a fan fantasy that I might have tied Margaret that day in London, then maybe beat her record in New York, and then at the trophy ceremony say, ‘See ya!’ I get that. It’s a good fantasy. But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words.”

Serena Williams holds her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr. after showing her clothing line during New York’s Fashion Week in New York. Williams says she is ready to step away from tennis after winning 23 Grand Slam titles, turning her focus to having another child and her business interests. “I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give,” Williams wrote in an essay released Aug. 9, 2022, by Vogue magazine. | Seth Wenig, Associated Press

Williams said her daughter, Olympia, who turns 5 this month, has been asking for a sibling for some time.

“In five years, Olympia has only spent one 24-hour period away from me. This past year, while I was recovering from a hamstring injury, I got to pick her up from school four or five days a week, and I always looked forward to seeing her face light up when she walked out of the building and saw me waiting there for her,” Williams said in her essay. 

“The fact is that nothing is a sacrifice for me when it comes to Olympia. It all just makes sense. I want to teach her how to tie her shoes, how to read, where babies come from, and about God. Just like my mom taught me. As she grows, it’s something different every month.”

Williams also addressed the unfairness she’s felt in having to choose between tennis and her family. 

“Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair,” she said in her essay. “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. Don’t get me wrong: I love being a woman, and I loved every second of being pregnant with Olympia. … But I’m turning 41 this month, and something’s got to give.”