Serena Williams said in her first public appearance since her emotional farewell at this year’s U.S. Open that she has yet to hang up her racquet and that her chances of returning to the court are “very high.” According to The San Francisco Standard, the 41-year-old tennis legend discussed her career and made the clarification last Wednesday during an appearance at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.
“I am not retired,” she said. “The chances [of me returning] are very high. You can come to my house and [see] I have a court.”
Williams’ most recent competitive tournament was the US Open in September. She withdrew from the competition after losing in the third round to Ajla Tomljanovic. Though it was initially assumed that Williams would take a permanent break following the competition, she told TechCrunch editor Jordan Crook that she may return to the court. Williams was in attendance to promote her investment firm, Serena Ventures. This year, the company received $111 million in outside funding.
“I started this company a while ago, so I just jumped right into that,” Williams told Crook. “I didn’t even think about the whole retirement.
“I still haven’t really thought about it. But I did go on the court the other day and [realized] for the first time in my life that I’m not playing for a competition and that felt very weird,” she added. “It was like the first day of the rest of my life, and so far, I am enjoying it. But I’m still trying to find that balance.”
Prior to the U.S. Open, Williams penned an essay in Vogue where she talked about hanging up her racquet after playing competitively for almost 3 decades.
“I have never liked the word retirement,” Williams 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.”
She added: “I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
Whether or not Williams returns to the court, her legacy as one of the greatest and most decorated tennis players of all time cannot be overstated. Off the court, Serena Williams has invested in over 34 startups through her Serena Ventures over the last five years. The majority of investments have gone to women and minority-owned businesses.
“It was supposed to be about creating opportunities for others,” Williams told Crook at TechCrunch Disrupt. “But it ended up being sort of the opposite.”
“We’re looking for founders with a personal connection to the problem they are trying to solve,” she added. “I want to know that [the founder] is not doing this to fill in a space or take advantage of an opportunity, but because it is near and dear to them.”