Serena Williams goes deeply honest on struggle of being away from pro tennis

Williams candidly addresses her retirement and how she is feeling now nearly two years after ending her pro career.

by Dzevad Mesic
Serena Williams goes deeply honest on struggle of being away from pro tennis
© Getty Images Sport - Elsa

Serena Williams shares she has been greatly missing tennis over the last several months as she admits the game will always be her biggest love. 

After ending her pro tennis career at the 2022 US Open, Serena Williams announced she was pregnant on March 1st last year. In August, Williams gave birth to her second child, a baby girl named Adira River Ohanian. 

Now, Williams reveals that during pregnancy she didn't really think much about missing tennis because her focus was on some other things. But shortly after giving birth last August, Williams started thinking more about tennis and missing it a lot more. 

While it's a pretty candid admission, it is not a sign that 42-year-old Williams is ready to return to tennis. 

Serena Williams
Serena Williams © Getty Images Sport - Elsa

“It was all good when I was pregnant and now that I’m not anymore I’m like, ‘Ohhh I miss it so much!’,” Williams said on Today with Hoda & Jenna. 

“I’m doing so many things with different businesses.

"But tennis obviously was my first love and it will always be my first love and it is something I will always be so passionate about. I will never love anything as much as tennis, 'cause it’s like, you’re in the front of the world and you don’t even realize it because there’s so much pressure and there’s so much stress.

"But you’re walking out on center court every day and they’re there to see you. And there’s no adrenaline like that.”

Thoughts on unretiring crossed Williams' mind

In the summer of 2022, Williams never used the word retirement when announcing her intention to walk away from pro tennis. Then, during and after her US Open run, Williams appeared to suggest on several occasions that her playing again could happen. 

In 2023 February, Williams confirmed what everyone had already been thinking - she had thoughts of unretiring and playing pro tennis again. At the time, Williams admitted to feeling "torn" but also noted that she was more at peace with her retirement than initially. 

"I for sure feel more at peace now," Williams told E!

"It's interesting. I think I feel torn because I'm still able to play at a very, very, very high level. With that being said, I always wanted to leave the game playing at a very high level. I also wanted to walk away when I'm healthy and have a quality of life.

"But I'm inch by inch leaning away, inch by inch embracing it.

"I was playing earlier when I first retired because it was hard to do it cold turkey. But lately, I haven't played so much. And I miss it. I'm like, 'Oh my goodness. I gotta get out there'. But it's hard for me to get out there."

Serena Williams
Serena Williams © Getty Images Entertainment - Kimberly White

Williams thought she could still play at a high level

In the last tournament of her career, Williams started with a win over Danka Kovinic and also defeated Anett Kontaveit, who at the the time was the second-ranked player in the world. After starting with two wins, Williams fell short to Ajla Tomljanovic in three sets in the third round. 

On paper, it wasn't a deep US Open run but Williams showed that she still had the game to compete against the best in the world. 

When making her retirement admission in 2023 February, the former 23-time Grand Slam champion also admitted she felt she could still play at a high level.

"I did play the other day, and it's just like, 'There's no way I shouldn't be playing professional tennis'. Like, there's literally no excuse," Williams said at the time. 

"But I mean, I guess there is an excuse, right? It's hard because when I'm playing I'm like, 'Oh my gosh, I'm pretty good at this. I can continue to do this,' which not a lot of people can say."

Serena Williams
Serena Williams © Getty Images Sport - Clive Brunskill

Meanwhile, Williams recently visited a tournament as she was present at the Miami Open last Friday. While in Miami, Williams followed her best friend Grigor Dimitrov beating Alexander Zverev and she also watched the Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev match. 

After beating Zverev for a Miami final spot, Dimitrov got candid about Williams coming to watch and support him.

"It's always very humbling to have such a supporter in your corner, and I think just before the match she came, we had a little chat," Dimitrov said.

"Actually, I remember she was even here when I had my first top-10 win. It was a very nice moment. I think we both remember that."

Serena Williams