Serena Williams' parting shot at Margaret Court, nod to Ash Barty in retirement announcement

Serena Williams’ parting shot at Margaret Court, nod to Ash Barty in retirement announcement

Serena Williams sounded just the tiniest little bit salty as she reflected on likely finishing her tennis career with one less grand slam title than Australian legend Margaret Court.

Williams’ crusade to win an elusive 24th major title and draw level with Court has been a five-year saga that looks almost certain to end fruitlessly when she retires at this year’s US Open.

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The 40-year-old American revealed her plans to end her career to focus on having another child in an article in Vogue Magazine published on Tuesday night (AEST).

Williams referenced Court twice in the piece, and while she was careful with her words left the impression she should be remembered as tennis’ greatest ever player.

“There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the ‘open era’ that began in 1968,” Williams wrote.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her. If I’m in a grand slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help.

“The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams. I had my chances after coming back from giving birth. I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression.

“But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually it’s extraordinary. But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis resume and building my family, I choose the latter.”

Williams stepped onto a hardcourt for the first time in a year and a half on Monday in the WTA Toronto tournament where she fought through to the second round with a straight sets victory over Nuria Parrizas Diaz.

It was her first singles victory since the 2021 French Open, some 14 months ago. The former world number one had played her first singles match in a year during a first round defeat at Wimbledon in June.

“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,” she wrote.

“But I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment. I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst.”

Another Aussie champion, Ash Barty, also got a mention in Williams’ self-penned article as she revealed how hard she was finding it to walk away.

Barty stunned the tennis world by retiring at age 25 earlier this year.

“I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way,” Williams wrote. “Ashleigh Barty was number one in the world when she left the sport this March, and I believe she really felt ready to move on. Caroline Wozniacki, who is one of my best friends, felt a sense of relief when she retired in 2020.

“Praise these people, but I’m going to be honest. There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at these crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not.”

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