“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously, I do. But day-to-day, I’m not really thinking about her.”
Williams later said in an Instagram post that it was time to move in a “different direction.”
“The countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena.”
She also has a vast business portfolio to maintain.
For nearly a decade she has backed early-stage companies, including MasterClass, one of 16 unicorns – companies whose market value exceeds $US1 billion – to receive funding from Serena Ventures.
On the court, Williams announced herself on the grandest stage by winning the 1999 US Open singles title, a tournament she would go on to win five more times.
Over the past two decades, she also claimed seven titles at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open and a further three at the French Open as she revolutionized the women’s game with a lethal mix of powerful serves, groundstrokes and athleticism.
Williams has had eight separate spells at the top of the WTA rankings, totaling 319 weeks as world number one.
“When Serena steps away from tennis, she will leave as the sport’s greatest player,” pioneer Billie Jean King said.
“After a career that has inspired a new generation of players and fans, she will forever be known as a champion who won on the court and raised the global profile of the sport off of it.”
Seven-time Grand Slam winner John McEnroe called Williams “an icon.”
“She’s in that level where Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Tom Brady are,” he told USAToday. “Ella She’s like one of the all-time greatest athletes in the history of any sport-male or female.”
Williams also owns 14 women’s Grand Slam doubles titles with older sister Venus and has won four Olympic gold medals – singles (2012) and doubles (2000, 2008, 2012).
While she has earned a well-deserved reputation as tennis’ fiercest competitor, Williams played down expectations for her major final, after losing in the opening round at Wimbledon.
“Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year. And I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York,” she wrote.
“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… 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.”
The US Open main draw begins on August 29.
Williams said she and her husband, entrepreneur and investor Alexis Ohanian, have been trying to have another child during the last year, a decision her four-year-old daughter Olympia is excited about.
“Sometimes before bed, she prays to Jehovah to bring her a baby sister,” Williams wrote.
The American won the 2017 Australian Open while she was two months pregnant but has no interest in being a pregnant athlete again: “I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”
“I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” she wrote. “But I’m turning 41 (in September), and something’s got to give.”
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