We all know the end is nearing for Serena Williams’ career.
All the signs are pointing towards arguably the greatest athlete of all-time retiring after being in the public spotlight since she was a teenager.
It’s clear that emotions are running high for the best female tennis player to ever pick up a racket. She left the post-match press conference in tears after losing in straight sets to juggernaut Naomi Osaka.
Williams later pinned a heartfelt message to the fans who have watched her in the Australian Open.
No one but Williams truly knows what the end will be for her. But look at the facts: She is no longer as dominant as she once was, she is months away from turning 40, and she has a toddler at the house who will likely want to spend more time with her mother as she gets older.
Williams’ circumstances are different now, which means that her priorities may have likely shifted as well, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Williams doesn’t owe anything to us as fans.
We all know that she is one Grand Slam title away from tying Margaret Court for the record with 24. Many of her fans, myself included, will want her to push until she can surpass Court for the undisputed crown. There will also be many people saying that Williams should retire as soon as possible because of the daunting responsibilities that come with competing on that level, especially with far younger talent like Osaka as her competition.
However, what Williams should do is block out all the noise and focus on what she truly wants for herself.
Williams has never owed tennis fans anything, but she gave us an icon to admire. Her excellence has inspired both men and women from across the globe. She dealt with numerous instances of racism and body shaming and yet she always persevered, becoming the standard-bearer of her sport.
Notable young Black stars like Osaka, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, and Coco Gauff likely wouldn’t be here without the impact of Williams and her sister Venus.
As we watch the final chapter of Serena’s career unfold, I would like to challenge everyone to just sit back, shut up, and watch her write the final sentences on her terms.
Being able to witness someone achieve greatness of this level is a blessing. Let’s give Serena the respect that she deserves and let’s enjoy the moments that we still have to watch her play the game that she loves.