Serena Williams Still Doesn't Know If U.S. Open Will Be Her Last Tournament: 'Never Say Never'

Serena Williams might be retiring — and she might not be.

via People:

The 23-time Grand Slam champion made headlines earlier this month when she announced plans to step away from her nearly 27-years-long professional tennis career after the upcoming U.S. Open, her next and possibly final chance to capture her 24th Grand Slam victory and tie Margaret Court’s record.

But speaking on Thursday alongside Nick Kyrgios, Naomi Osaka and her own sister Venus Williams on “A Conversation with Champions” panel ahead of the U.S. Open at the Lotte New York Palace hotel in New York City, Serena hedged her bets.

Asked by co-moderator and TODAY show anchor Sheinelle Jones whether the U.S. Open would be her final tournament, Serena, 40, said, “I mean, I don’t know. I think so, but who knows?”

“Maybe in Australia?” wondered Jones, of the 2023 Australian Open. “Yeah, no. I mean, I don’t think so,” said Serena.

“You never know,” the tennis star added. “I’ve learned in my career, never say never. So that’s important.”

Serena revealed she was beginning an “evolution” away from tennis in a first-person essay for the September cover of Vogue.

“I have never liked the word retirement,” she wrote. “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.”

At the “Conversation with Champions” panel, Serena revisited her definition of what her “evolution” means. “It’s more like an evolution of Serena,” she explained. “So for me, I feel like a lot of people could relate to that. Sometimes you just have a platform to just talk about what a lot of people can’t really put into words or really talk about. Yeah, it’s just an evolution.

“I’m excited about the new things that I’ve been doing and I’m continuing to do,” she added.

The U.S. Open is set for Aug. 29 through Sept. 11 at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens, New York. And while Serena is set to meet Danka Kovini?, from Montenegro, in the first round Monday, she’s also looking ahead to future successes off the court.

In her Vogue essay, Serena said that she has been “reluctant to admit” to herself or the people around her that she has “to move on from playing tennis.” But the founder of investment firm Serena Ventures said that she wants to refocus her attention elsewhere, and she and her husband Alexis Ohanian hope to have another child to join 4 ½-year-old daughter Olympia.

Until then, Serena said on Thursday that she’s spending plenty of time with Olympia.

“She’s my little buddy,” Serena told co-moderator and TODAY show star Dylan Dreyer. “We do everything together. We go on dates and it’s so cool because she likes everything I do — except for tennis.”

The tennis great added, “She’s really fun. I see a lot of my personality in her and it’s just a great time to have her around now to see what I do on a daily.”

Whatever Serena decides to do — she’s earned that right.

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