Serena Williams on why the word “retirement” doesn’t suit her: “I never really fit in a box”

Sports legend Serena Williams discusses career and family, and her approach to balancing both while prioritizing the latter, in a sit-down conversation with “CBS Mornings” co-host Gayle King that is scheduled to air on Wednesday, Feb. 1. Their chat took place at her family’s farm in South Florida.

In a preview of Williams’ interview that aired Tuesday morning, the athlete, long considered the G.O.A.T. among her tennis peers, shared some of her current thoughts about retirement and why she does not believe the term “really fits” her.

“I definitely am evolving,” Williams said, echoing a turn of phrase that she used in the August 2022 Vogue essay where she first seemed to hint at her plans to step away from tennis, potentially for good.

2022 US Open - Day 5
Serena Williams of the United States reacts in the second set against Ajla Tomlijanovic of Australia during their Women’s Singles Third Round match on Day Five of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 02, 2022.ELSA/GETTY IMAGES

“Because I feel like when you retire, it’s different,” she told King. “You put up your gloves or your club or your racket or whatever that is, or your computer, and then you just relax. And you go and you just basically take life in. And that’s not what I’m doing.”

“I just feel like, for me, retirement is such a big word for someone at my age,” Williams continued. “And I was just like, ‘Um I don’t think … that really fits me. I never really fit in a box anyway. Never. I just need to be out of that. I just need an arm out of the box, or a leg. Something.”

Williams, now 41, has been a fixture within the professional sports arena since the 1990s, when she rose to tennis superstardom as a teenager alongside her sister Venus Williams. She has won 23 Gram Slam singles titles — the most of any player in the Open Era and second-most of all time — and spent 186 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on tennis’ global rankings list. Williams has also turned her focus to projects outside of tennis in recent years, including her venture capital firm Serena Ventures.

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