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.
A must read. https://t.co/NSWDGHzsXK— Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) August 9, 2022
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."
"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."
"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."