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Analis Bailey, USA TODAY

Serena Williams is set to retire from tennis in the coming weeks, making the announcement in Vogue’s September edition. The 40-year-old, 23-time Grand Slam champion said, “it’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine.”

“I’ve been reluctant to admit that I have to move on from playing tennis,” the former No. 1-ranked women’s tennis player wrote. “It’s like a taboo topic. It comes up, and I start to cry. I think the only person I’ve really gone there with is my therapist.

“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.”

The four-time Olympic gold medalist shared on Instagram Tuesday that “the countdown has begun” and she will enjoy the next few weeks.

“There comes a time in life when we have to decide to move in a different direction,” Williams wrote. “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 exciting Serena. I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”

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Williams will end her career after the US Open – set to begin August 29 – to focus on building her family. Williams and Alexis Ohanian have been married since November 2017 and have one child together. 

“In the last year, Alexis and I have been trying to have another child, and we recently got some information from my doctor that put my mind at ease and made me feel that whenever we’re ready, we can add to our family,” Williams continued. “I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”

The announcement comes just one day after Williams won her first match in over a year on Monday at the National Open in Toronto.

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