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By Sports Desk August 19, 2021

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  • Serena to retire: The remarkable stats, facts and figures that highlight Williams' legacy Serena to retire: The remarkable stats, facts and figures that highlight Williams' legacy

    Serena Williams' long and illustrious tennis career is drawing to a close after the American confirmed on Tuesday that the countdown has begun.

    Following a long piece in Vogue, Williams wrote of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks", suggesting the US Open – which begins in late August – will be her last outing.

    Thanks to her success and brilliance on the court, Williams has become synonymous with tennis and is regarded by many as the greatest the women's sport has ever seen.

    Yet, her seemingly imminent retirement cannot be seen as a shock. At the age of 40, Williams has persisted with tennis far longer than most do, and that is testament to her quality and enduring desire for success.

    With Williams now reaching the end, Stats Perform takes a look at the key facts, stats and figures of her career; in other words, Serena's remarkable legacy.

    Twenty-three… and counting?

    Of course, the headline fact for Williams' career is her grand slam titles count.

    She has won 23, which is more than anyone else in the Open era.

    But she's still got one target left: matching Margaret Court. The Australian's 24 grand slam successes include nine won before the Open era began in 1968, though her overall total has been the benchmark ever since she claimed her final crown at the US Open in 1975.

    Clearly, victory for Williams at Flushing Meadows would be the perfect farewell.

     

    The finals hurdle

    Even if Williams only reaches the championship match next month, she'll still be equalling a different record.

    Assuming she does compete in Queens, Williams heads into the US Open having played in 33 grand slam finals, one more than Martina Navratilova.

    But Chris Evert (34) sits out in front, and that record will remain hers for many, many years if Williams cannot reach the finale at Flushing Meadows.

    Top of the pile

    It's been a while now since Williams was last the highest-ranked player in the world, but in a way that only further highlights how remarkable her career has been.

    She's spent 319 weeks ranked as world number one, which is behind only Steffi Graf (377) and Navratilova (332).

    While many might have expected Williams to have been top of the pile for even longer, it's worth remembering how she's spent time out due to injuries and pregnancy, with her general involvement in top-level tennis decreasing after 2014 when she played 16 tournaments – in 2016 that halved to eight, and during no year since has she played in more.

    Additionally, some will also be surprised to learn she actually only finished the year as the top-ranked female player five times. Nevertheless, that's still third to only Graf (eight) and Navratilova (seven).

    Go hard or go home

    Such has been Williams' quality, she was always considered a threat regardless of the surface – she's won each grand slam at least three times.

    But there's no denying she was at her most lethal on hard courts.

    She has won 48 WTA Tour-level titles on hard courts, which is 11 more than anyone else (Graf) in the Open era.

    Those 48 come from a grand total of 73 across all surfaces, leaving her ranked fifth behind Navratilova (167), Evert (157), Graf (107) and Court (92).

     

    Surface to say…

    Williams' comfort on hard courts goes even further than that.

    She's won 539 matches on the surface, making her one of just two female players to surpass 500 victories on one specific ground type.

    Navratilova (600 on carpet) is the only other player to achieve the feat, with Serena's sister Venus (498 on hard) the closest to the 23-time grand slam champion.

    The grass is greener

    Despite that unrivalled excellence, hard courts may not be the surface many feel to be most synonymous with Williams, however.

    Wimbledon is the tournament that would appear to be her favourite.

    She's reached the final at SW19 11 times. Only Navratilova can better that record for the most finals at one tournament – though it's worth saying she contested the WTA Finals and Chicago 14 times each, Eastbourne 13 times and 12 at Wimbledon.

  • Serena to retire: 10 key quotes from Williams on plans to quit tennis Serena to retire: 10 key quotes from Williams on plans to quit tennis

    Serena Williams, the most decorated tennis player in the open era, has hinted at retirement following the US Open.

    One day on from winning her first singles match in 430 days at the Canadian Open, the legendary 23-time grand slam winner confirmed she is "evolving away" from the sport in an interview with Vogue Magazine.

    Williams, who is one grand slam title away from matching Margaret Court's all-time record, appears set for one last shot at matching that haul at Flushing Meadows.

    With Williams likely to call time on a spectacular career following one last outing at her home slam, below are 10 key quotes from her interview with Vogue.

    THE KEY QUOTES

    Reluctancy to step away 

    "I've been reluctant to admit to myself or anyone else that I have to move on from playing tennis. Alexis, my husband, and I have hardly talked about it; it's like a taboo topic.

    "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. The only person I've really gone there with is my therapist."

    Evolution

    "I have never liked the word 'retirement'. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me. I've been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.

    "Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is 'evolution'. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, towards other things that are important to me."

    No joy in reaching a "crossroads"

    "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 to 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. 

    "I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it's not. I'm torn. I don't want it to be over, but at the same time I'm ready for what's next."

    Family life key

    "I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don't think it's fair. 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 labour 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.

    "A lot of people don't realise that I was two months pregnant when I won the Australian Open in 2017. But I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give."

    Wanting Court's record 

    "There are people who say I'm not the GOAT [greatest of all time] 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. 

    "I'd be lying if I said I didn't want that record. Obviously I do."

    Pride in "extraordinary" record

    "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.

    "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."

    Tiger's advice 

    "This spring, I had the itch to get back on the court for the first time in seven months. I was talking to Tiger Woods, who's a friend, and I told him I needed his advice on my tennis career. He was adamant that I be a beast, the same way he is!"

    "Magical" Wimbledon return

    "It felt magical to pick up a racket again. And I was good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether to play Wimbledon, and the US Open after that."

    "I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York, but I'm going to try."

    "Unfortunately I wasn't ready to win Wimbledon this year. 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!' But I'm not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment."

    Inspiring female athletes

    "I'd like to think that thanks to me, women athletes can be themselves. They can play with aggression and pump their fists. 

    "They can wear what they want and say what they want and kick butt and be proud of it all."

  • Serena Williams reveals tennis retirement is imminent Serena Williams reveals tennis retirement is imminent

    Serena Williams has revealed she is about to retire from tennis, announcing "the countdown has begun" with the US Open seemingly set to be her final tournament.

    With 23 grand slam singles titles, Williams is the most decorated player of the Open Era, but her most recent major success came at the 2017 Australian Open.

    The 40-year-old is one title shy of Margaret Court's all-time record and appears set for one last shot at matching the Australian.

    Williams wrote on Tuesday of her plan to "move in a different direction" after "these next few weeks" following a long piece in Vogue.

    She has already been named on the entry list for the US Open, which starts at Flushing Meadows at the end of August.

    Posting an image of her interview on Instagram, Williams said: "There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction.

    "That time is always hard when you love something so much. My goodness do I enjoy tennis.

    "But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different but just as exciting Serena.

    "I'm just going to relish these next few weeks."

    Within the Vogue piece, she added: "I'm turning 41 this month, and something's got to give.

    "I have never liked the word retirement. It doesn't feel like a modern word to me.

    "I've been thinking of this as a transition, but I want to be sensitive about how I use that word, which means something very specific and important to a community of people.

    "Maybe the best word to describe what I'm up to is evolution. I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."

    Williams wrote at length about the reasons for her decision, saying: "I started a family. I want to grow that family."

    The American great had hinted at this decision on Monday following her defeat of Nuria Parrizas-Diaz at the Canadian Open.

    That was Williams' first singles win in 430 days, and she said: "I guess there's just a light at the end of the tunnel.

    "I don't know, I'm getting closer to the light, so… lately that's been it for me. I can't wait to get to that light."

    When asked what "the light" means to her, Williams responded: "Freedom." She added: "I can't do this forever."

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