Williams announced in an emotional article for Vogue that she would be “evolving away from tennis”.
Purposefully avoiding the word “retirement”, the 23-Grand Slam winner said she would be moving towards “other things that are important to me”.
Her transition from tennis, which is expected to begin after the US Open, has sparked an outpouring of emotion from fans and fellow sportspeople.
This includes Hamilton, the seven-time F1 world champion, who is a good friend of Williams.
He reacted to the announcement on Instagram, writing: “Such an Icon!! Queen!! GOAT!! We love you @serenawilliams”.
Williams has previously said that she and Hamilton are “super close” and “best friends”.
serena williams and sir lewis hamilton, the goats 🤍 pic.twitter.com/Y4AVWlPYpw— s 🐝 (@formullana) August 9, 2022
It was clear in the 40-year-old’s announcement that the decision to step away from tennis was an incredibly difficult one.
“I know that a lot of people are excited about and look forward to retiring, and I really wish I felt that way,” Williams wrote.
“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.
“It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. 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.”
Williams has been a trailblazer in women’s sport, continuously raising the bar for female athletes around the world.
She won more Grand Slam titles than any female player in the Open era, and the second most of all-time, behind Margaret Court’s 24.