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Serena Williams Says She Will Retire From Tennis: Live Updates

Matthew Futterman


Credit…Pete Kiehart for The New York Times

Serena Williams, the 23-time Grand Slam champion and a cultural touchstone since winning her first U.S. Open in 1999, said in a magazine article published online on Tuesday that she planned to retire from the sport after playing again in the tournament, which begins later this month.

Williams, who long ago both changed and transcended tennis and became a beacon of fashion, entertainment and business, shifting the way people inside and outside of sports viewed female athletes, said in an as-told-to cover story for Vogue that she has “never liked the word retirement” and preferred the word “evolution” to describe her next steps. “I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” including working with her venture capital firm and growing her family.

She was not explicit about when she might stop playing but hinted on Instagram that the U.S. Open could be her last tournament while leaving the door ever-so-slightly open to continuing, or coming back, as players who step away from the game often do. “The countdown has begun,” she said, adding, “I’m gonna relish these next few weeks.”

Williams is competing at U.S. Open tuneup tournaments, this week in Toronto and next week in Cincinnati.

Exiting the stage this year at the U.S. Open would be a fitting end to Williams’s storied career. She won her first Grand Slam title there, in 1999, when she was just 17 years old, or 23 years ago, a number that matches her career Grand Slam singles tally.

“It feels like the right exclamation point, the right ending,” said Pam Shriver, a former player and a tennis commentator who was one of the great doubles champions of the 1980s. “It doesn’t matter her result, and it’s a conclusion that feels a lot better than last year at Wimbledon.”

At Wimbledon in 2021, Williams was forced to retire from her first-round match after just 34 minutes when she slipped and tore her hamstring.

The injury sidelined her for nearly a year. In fact, Shriver and others thought it was most likely that Williams might never officially retire but would instead drift into the existence that she assumed for nearly a year after her teary Wimbledon exit.

This spring though, Williams said she got the itch to play competitively again. In the Vogue story, she said that Tiger Woods convinced her to commit to training hard for two weeks and see what transpired. She did not immediately take his advice but eventually began hitting and signed up for the doubles competition at a Wimbledon tuneup event.

At Wimbledon in June, she played a spirited but inconsistent three-hour, first-round match but lost to Harmony Tan of France, 7-5, 1-6, 7-6 (7), during which she showed flashes of the power and touch that had once made her nearly unbeatable.

Williams said that she and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, planned to have another child.

“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. I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out.”

Williams’s last Grand Slam tournament victory came while she was pregnant during the Australian Open in 2017.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year,” Williams said. “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.”

Williams has won nearly $100 million in prize money.

For the moment, Williams is second to Margaret Court of Australia on Grand Slam singles championships, a record she had multiple chances to tie and then surpass in 2018 and 2019 when she lost four Grand Slam finals without winning a set. However, few in tennis believe that shortcoming should in any way tarnish the legacy that Williams leaves as the greatest female tennis player, one of the greatest players, and one of the greatest athletes in any sport.

Beyond all the championships — she has won 73 singles titles, 23 in doubles, two in mixed doubles and played on four Olympic teams, winning four gold medals — that may be her greatest legacy.

With her unique mix of power, strength, speed, touch and the tennis intelligence that produced her dominance, Williams relegated to irrelevance any distinction between great male and female tennis players and athletes as no woman had previously done. This was not accidental, Williams would occasionally interrupt journalists during news conferences if they identified her as one of the greatest female tennis players.

“Tennis player,” she would say.

“Tennis player,” journalists would say, and then continue with the question.

Her fellow professionals hardly resisted. Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, the great male tennis players of the 21st century — and the greatest the game has ever produced — spoke of Williams as one of them.

Last year at the U.S. Open, as the pressure mounted on Djokovic to win one last championship to complete a rare calendar-year Grand Slam, he spoke of how only Williams could understand what he was going through.

Williams came to the U.S. Open in 2015 having won the year’s first three Grand Slam singles titles but lost to the unseeded Roberta Vinci of Italy in the semifinals in three sets after winning the first. A title at that U.S. Open would have given her a fifth consecutive Grand Slam singles championship, since she had already won four consecutive Grand Slams singles titles for the second time. That feat became known as the “Serena Slam.”


Aug. 9, 2022

An earlier version of this article misstated Serena Williams’s age when she first won the U.S. Open in 1999. She was 17, not 18.

Jesus Jimenez

Aug. 9, 2022, 4: 03 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 4: 03 p.m. ET

Jesus Jimenez

“Respect,” Garbiñe Muguruza wrote in an Instagram story on Tuesday, sharing Serena Williams’s Vogue cover. Muguruza defeated Williams in the 2016 French Open final, a year after Williams defeated her in the 2015 Wimbledon final.

Aug. 9, 2022, 4: 00 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 4: 00 p.m. ET

Shauntel Lowe


Credit…J. Pat Carter/Associated Press

Group chats light up, snacks are gathered and work is pushed aside when it’s time for Serena Williams to play tennis.

But the #SerenaAlert hashtag that floods Twitter when she takes the court is not just a signal for a sporting event — it’s also a rallying cry for Black women that it is their time to shine.

Williams, with her deep brown skin and curvy body shape, has experienced racism, sexism and body shaming throughout her career that many Black women can relate to. So when she takes the court — in all white at Wimbledon, in catsuits, in braids or as a blonde — many Black women come together to support her and, in a sense, support themselves, too.

“For me Serena has always been Black excellence and misunderstood,” said Cari Champion, a journalist and television host who is Black.

Champion runs Brown Girls Dream, a mentorship program for women of color that has received financial support from Williams. “I just love her for always being honest and true and authentic to who she is, whether it was received well or not,” Champion said.

Black women, especially those with darker skin tones like Williams’s, are often perceived as less feminine than white women. In 2014, Shamil Tarpischev, then the president of the Russian Tennis Federation, was fined $25,000 and suspended for a year by the Women’s Tennis Association after he referred to Williams and her sister Venus as “the Williams brothers.” He also said it was “frightening when you look at them.”

In a 2018 interview with Harper’s Bazaar U.K., Serena Williams said those kinds of comments were “hard for me.”

“People would say I was born a guy, all because of my arms, or because I’m strong,” she said. “I was different to Venus: She was thin and tall and beautiful, and I am strong and muscular — and beautiful, but, you know, it was just totally different.”

Coco Gauff, who is Black and one of the rising stars in women’s tennis, said on Tuesday at a tournament in Toronto that Serena Williams was “the reason why I play tennis.”

“Tennis being a predominantly white sport, it definitely helped a lot because I saw somebody look like me dominating the game and it made me believe that I could dominate, too,” she said.

Coco Gauff speaking today in Toronto on the positive impact that Serena Williams has had on young black athletes such as herself as well as the impact that her father Richard Williams has had on the Gauff family too. #NBO22

— Mike McIntyre (@McIntyreTennis) August 9, 2022

Champion is often among the Black women on social media alternately rooting for Williams and challenging people who make negative comments about her or downplay her accomplishments. Champion said that with 23 major singles titles, Williams should be seen as one of the greatest athletes ever — male or female — but many recognize her only as a great female athlete.

“Black women understood that,” Champion said. “We understood when people cannot see our contributions to society.”

Champion said Williams and Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, who in June was sworn in as the first Black woman on the Supreme Court, are important because they show Black women and girls that they can “succeed at all levels.”

“Serena is a self-made woman in a world that didn’t really understand who she was,” Champion said.

Aug. 9, 2022, 3: 37 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 3: 37 p.m. ET

Elena Bergeron


Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

Back in 2006, Chris Evert wrote an open letter to Serena Williams, from one champion to another.

“I’ve been thinking about your career, and something is troubling me,” Evert wrote in Tennis Magazine. “I appreciate that becoming a well-rounded person is important to you, as you’ve made that desire very clear. Still, a question lingers — do you ever consider your place in history? Is it something you care about? In the short term you may be happy with the various things going on in your life, but I wonder whether 20 years from now you might reflect on your career and regret not putting 100 percent of yourself into tennis. Because whether you want to admit it or not, these distractions are tarnishing your legacy.”

At that point, Williams had won five of the six Grand Slams she entered during a stretch that ran from 2002 to 2003, but fell out of the top 10 rankings in 2005 as she dealt with a hamstring injury and out of the top 100 in 2006 as she rehabbed her knee. In that time, she pursued acting (she was a patient on “E.R.” in 2005), showed up on red carpets, and sought out therapy for depression, which she described in her 2009 memoir.

Evert was hardly alone in criticizing Williams for not putting her tennis career first. Later, when she took extended stretches from the game to recover from injuries, those absences prompted analysts to question her love for the game.

Focused insularity is a defining characteristic of professional tennis, where the nine-month season is organized around tournaments where athletes are isolated and have to summon single-minded intensity to win a trophy over the course of a few weeks, then do it again.

Burnout ends as many tennis careers as injury or decline in a sport where future pros often begin intense training in adolescence, travel on the juniors circuit in their early teens and turn pro before they can vote. Tennis champions including Bjorn Berg, Steffi Graf, Jennifer Capriati, and most recently Ashleigh Barty, the world No. 1 who announced her retirement at 25 in March, have cited burnout for their exits.

Under the guidance of their parents, Serena and Venus Williams avoided the junior circuit, which had battered some players’ self esteem. During her breaks from the game, Serena Williams often used her time away from tennis to nurture other interests, a decision that undoubtedly extended her 24-year career. She enrolled in Palm Beach Nail School to get her certification as a nail technician in 2009 as she again rehabbed her knee. Both Venus and Serena studied fashion at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and each launched successful clothing lines that they nurtured between matches.

Williams again took time to focus on her mental health in 2015 after a semifinal loss in that year’s U.S. Open thwarted her attempt at a calendar-year sweep of the Grand Slam events. In 2018, after the emotional Open final she lost to Naomi Osaka, Williams in her downtime sought therapy again as she considered all that had happened in the match.

It has become more common in recent years for tennis pros to take time off without backlash over their priorities. Barty had previously taken a break from the W.T.A. in 2014 to play professional cricket. Osaka took time off from tennis in 2021, citing a need to address her mental health. Victoria Azarenka returned to the game in 2017 after a yearlong maternity leave, the same year that Williams also gave birth. Their returns helped prompt the W.T.A. to change its rules to accommodate athletes returning from pregnancy.

Williams wrote in her retirement announcement that she hoped to be remembered for her off-court pursuits as much as her victories.

“Over the years, I hope that people come to think of me as symbolizing something bigger than tennis. I admire Billie Jean because she transcended her sport,” she said. “I’d like it to be: Serena is this and she’s that and she was a great tennis player and she won those slams.”

Jesus Jiménez

Aug. 9, 2022, 1: 27 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 1: 27 p.m. ET


Credit…Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Those interested in watching Serena Williams on her road to retirement will have opportunities to do so in at least three tournaments.

“I don’t know if I will be ready to win New York,” Williams said in a Vogue cover story announcing her retirement, referring to the U.S. Open. “But I’m going to try. And the lead-up tournaments will be fun.”

Her next match is set for Wednesday in the round of 32 of the National Bank Open in Toronto against the winner of a match on Tuesday between Belinda Bencic and Tereza Martincova. Williams will be scheduled for a night match, the tournament said on its website.

National Bank Open matches are televised by its official broadcasters Sportsnet and TVA Sports. In the United States, the Tennis Channel is broadcasting the Canadian tournament, and some matches are available on Bally Sports.

After the National Bank Open, which ends on Sunday, Williams is expected to play in Cincinnati at the Western & Southern Open, which runs Aug. 13-21. The tournament said on Twitter that it was “honored to be a small part of” Williams’s career.

“We’re so excited to watch her at our tournament this year,” the tournament said.

Williams is expected to play in Cincinnati with a protected ranking that has yet to be determined. The tournament, which has tickets available online, is set to feature a number of formidable players, including Iga Swiatek, the No. 1-ranked player on the women’s tour, and Emma Raducanu, the reigning U.S. Open champion.

After the Western & Southern Open, there are two more tournaments before the U.S. Open — Tennis in the Land in Cleveland and the National Bank Championships in Granby, Canada. Player lists for the tournaments, which run concurrently Aug. 21-27, have not yet been released, and it was unclear whether Williams will play in either.

The U.S. Open, the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, begins Aug. 29 and runs through Sept. 11. The tournament will be televised by ESPN, and has tickets available online. The women’s final is scheduled for Sept. 10.

While the U.S. Open draw has not been set, the first chance for fans to see Williams would be during the first round of the tournament on Aug. 29 or 30, a match that would most likely be played inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“I’m not looking for some ceremonial, final on-court moment,” Williams told Vogue. “I’m terrible at goodbyes, the world’s worst. But please know that I am more grateful for you than I can ever express in words. You have carried me to so many wins and so many trophies. I’m going to miss that version of me, that girl who played tennis. And I’m going to miss you.”

Williams was vague about her plans after the U.S. Open, and did not pinpoint exactly when she would wind down her time in the sport.

Alan Blinder

Aug. 9, 2022, 1: 14 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 1: 14 p.m. ET

Alan Blinder

Coco Gauff, who has become one of the world’s great players in short order, greeted Serena Williams’s announcement simply: Without comment, she posted the Vogue cover on an Instagram story. Gauff has long cited Williams as one of her inspirations, and, as it happens, she spent part of her childhood working out at Pompey Park in Delray Beach, Fla., the same public complex where the Williams sisters practiced as kids.

Aug. 9, 2022, 1: 11 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 1: 11 p.m. ET


Credit…Krista Schlueter for The New York Times

When Serena Williams retires from tennis “toward other things that are important,” as she said in an interview with Vogue, she’ll have numerous opportunities.

One of those that she mentioned was her early-stage venture capital firm, Serena Ventures, which raised an inaugural fund of $111 million and pledged to invest in founders with diverse points of view, she told the DealBook newsletter. The firm is already an active angel investor with a portfolio of 60 companies that includes SendWave, MasterClass and Daily Harvest.

“I’ve always been fascinated with technology, and I’ve always loved how it really shapes our lives,” said Williams, who has been investing for nine years. “When I met my husband, that was our first conversation. That’s how we met. I was talking about investments.” Williams’s husband is the Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian.

Serena Ventures doesn’t require that its founders come from historically underrepresented backgrounds, though it says about three-quarters of its portfolio company founders do.

The founding partners of Serena Ventures are Williams and Alison Rapaport Stillman. Williams’s other business activities include fashion lines, entertainment deals and a seat on the board of Poshmark. Rapaport Stillman previously worked at JPMorgan, Wasserman and Melo7 Tech. The fund’s limited partners include Norwest Venture Partners, Capital G (Alphabet’s growth fund) and LionTree.

Matthew Futterman

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 54 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 54 p.m. ET

Matthew Futterman

Pam Shriver, the tennis commentator and former top pro, remembers the first time she saw Serena Williams hit. It was at a charity fundraiser that Nancy Reagan was holding to support her “Just Say No” to drugs campaign at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles. Shriver caught a glimpse of Williams and her sister Venus playing and was struck by their precocious power even though Serena might not even have been 10 years old.

A few years later, the Williams sisters played at one of Shriver’s charity events in Baltimore, and Shriver was impressed.

“All I can remember was the power, and that has been the heart of her career. The power and the speed. She had that live powerful arm, and I will say the first time I saw it, it was the smoothest most efficient powerful service motion that has produced one of the greatest weapons in the history of tennis.”

Alan Blinder

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 22 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 22 p.m. ET

Alan Blinder

Wimbledon, the English tournament Serena Williams won in singles seven times, said on Twitter: “Some play the game. Others change it.” Addressing Williams, the tournament’s account added: “We hope the next few weeks bring you joy.” Williams last won Wimbledon in 2016, the same year she earned her sixth doubles title there.

Christopher Clarey

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 21 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 21 p.m. ET


Credit…Chang. W. Lee/The New York Times

How long has Serena Williams been a champion? She won her first Grand Slam singles title in the 20th century.

Williams was 17 when she won the 1999 U.S. Open. She had beads in her hair and, even at that early stage, plenty of sting in her strokes as she knocked out five past or future major champions, including the 18-year-old Martina Hingis in the final.

“Oh, my God, I won, oh my God,” Williams said, hand to her chest, looking as surprised as the rest of us.

Williams has seldom been the underdog since, but surprises have continued to be her trademark.

When she won the 2017 Australian Open, she was well aware that she was two months pregnant, but she kept the secret from all but her closest friends and family during the tournament and in the weeks that followed.

Now, the trophy from that victory sits on a shelf in the bedroom of her daughter, Olympia, who will turn 5 in September.

A strong argument can be made that that victory, which was Williams’s 23rd Grand Slam singles title, was as remarkable as her first, when she became the first African American woman since Althea Gibson in 1958 to win the U.S. Open.

Seven of Williams’s other major singles victories have come against her older sister Venus, who was born just 15 months ahead of her.

Williams, who said in Vogue on Tuesday that she plans to retire from tennis, is one championship shy of Margaret Court’s career record of 24 Grand Slam singles titles. Williams indicated that she would compete again in this year’s U.S. Open, which could end up being her last chance to tie Court’s record.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record,” Williams told the magazine. “Obviously I do. But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her.”

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 11 p.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 12: 11 p.m. ET

The decision by Serena Williams to give the news of her retirement to Vogue might have seemed strange to people who don’t think of the magazine as a conventional news outlet — much less a sports magazine — but it makes perfect sense.

Vogue’s editor, Anna Wintour, in real life is, first, a tennis fan and, second, a fashion person. She plays tennis at the Midtown Tennis Club and another one of her favorite tennis players is Roger Federer. Wintour has been to nearly every Grand Slam that Williams has won, as well as her U.S. Open appearances. (In 2019, she was photographed in Williams’s box, sitting right behind Meghan Markle.)

Wintour first placed Williams in the magazine in 1998, when Annie Leibovitz photographed Williams with her sister Venus in matching black-and-white ball gowns from Carolina Herrera.

Since then, Williams has been on the cover of Vogue numerous times: in 2012, 2015, 2018 and 2020.

Williams has been to five Met galas and debuted her baby bump at the May 2017 gala. The following year, the first pictures of her with her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., by Mario Testino, were for her Vogue cover.

Further, celebrities breaking major pieces of news in fashion magazines makes a certain amount of sense. Women’s magazines expressly exist to celebrate women. Cover subjects are generally treated well, both by photographers and writers.

The exposure they receive there also helps them obtain campaigns and roles as brand ambassadors.

Over the years, Williams has moved steadily into that sphere. Her corporate sponsors in recent years have included Nike, JPMorgan Chase, Beats by Dre, Pepsi and Audemars Piguet, the Swiss watch manufacturer with pieces that typically run over $20,000.

And when Williams married her husband, Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, Wintour consulted with her on her wedding dress, which was designed by Sarah Burton, for Alexander McQueen.

People magazine described it as a “grand slam.”

Victor Mather

Aug. 9, 2022, 11: 45 a.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 11: 45 a.m. ET


Credit…The New York Times

Rare among sports superstars, Serena Williams has been on fans’ radar since a very young age.

The first New York Times reference to her came in July 1991, in an article mentioning that her father, Richard, was considering sending Serena, 10, and Venus, 11, to Nick Bollettieri’s Florida-based tennis academy. Early coverage tended to focus on her older sister, with throwaway references saying that Serena looked pretty good too.

By 1995, Serena was making news off the court as lawsuits were threatened over the WTA’s minimum age rules. Finally, with the advantage of a loophole, she debuted at age 14 in October 1995, losing a match in Oakland, Calif., 6-1, 6-1, to 148th-ranked Anne Miller. The news garnered three paragraphs, below an item on Pete Sampras getting upset, but above the Big East cross-country championships. Earlier in the day another 14-year-old, Anna Kournikova, had cruised in her first match.

But Williams got better, and the articles kept coming. More than 5,000 over the years.

After seven Grand Slam wins, the first “Serena comeback” article appeared on the paper’s front page after she won the Australian Open in 2007. (It had been — gasp! — two years since her last Slam.)

The New York Times Magazine has weighed in. And Style: Shopping With Serena Williams. Kelly Rowland praised her Twitter feed. Culture reviewed a wind quintet inspired in part by her. Her appearance at the Oscars introducing “A Star Is Born” was duly noted. If there was a Serena Williams angle to be covered, The Times was on it.

Tuesday’s news adds to the coverage of Williams’s already remarkable life. She still has some tennis left in her, and her plans for family and her venture capital business could keep her in The Times for years to come. Not bad for someone whose first appearance read, in its entirety, “her 10-year-old sister, Serena Williams.”

Aug. 9, 2022, 11: 11 a.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 11: 11 a.m. ET

Shawna Richer


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Serena Williams hinted at her retirement plan one day before announcing it in a Vogue cover story, telling reporters in Toronto that she “can’t do this forever.”CreditCredit…Dan Hamilton/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

TORONTO — Serena Williams won her first match in more than a year on Monday and afterward all but said she was done playing tennis.

“There’s just a light at the end of the tunnel,” Williams said laughing when asked what drives her playing tennis these days. “I’m getting closer to the light. Lately that’s been that’s been it for me. I can’t wait to get to that light.”

Williams defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz, 6-3, 6-4, on Monday to advance to the second round at the National Bank Open.

After the match she seemed to be in light spirits.

“I love playing. It’s like, it’s amazing. But, you know, I can’t do this forever,” she said. “So it’s just like, sometimes you just want to try your best to enjoy the moments and do the best that you can.”

Oskar Garcia

Aug. 9, 2022, 11: 10 a.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 11: 10 a.m. ET

Oskar Garcia

In her Vogue essay, Williams shares some revealing and deeply personal reflections on her career choices and womanhood. “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 labor of expanding our family,” she says. “Maybe I’d be more of a Tom Brady if I had that opportunity.”

Victor Mather

Aug. 9, 2022, 10: 20 a.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 10: 20 a.m. ET


Credit…Ben Solomon for The New York Times

With the caveat that there still may be more to come from her this fall, Serena Williams has put a dazzling array of achievements into her sport’s record books.

She has won 23 Grand Slam singles events, ranging from 1999 when she was 17, to 2017. They included seven Australian Opens, three French Opens, seven Wimbledons, and six U.S. Opens. She also has 10 further appearances in Grand Slam singles finals.

The total is one short of the record of 24, set by Margaret Court, although about half of those wins came in the pre-1968 amateur era.

Williams has won 14 Grand Slam women’s doubles events, all of them with her sister, Venus. The pair never lost in a Grand Slam final. Serena also has two Grand Slams in mixed doubles with Max Mirnyi.

Williams has also participated in four Olympics, winning the singles gold medal in London in 2012 and the doubles with Venus three times.

Although she and her sister tended to play a lighter schedule than many players and prioritized the Grand Slams, she has 73 WTA titles in total, ranking her fifth all-time.

Although her wins have been fewer in recent years, she remains a huge attraction to sponsors. Forbes reported that from May 2021 to May 2022, she earned $45 million, only $300,000 of that on the court, ranking her 31st of all athletes and second among women behind Naomi Osaka.

Alan Blinder

Aug. 9, 2022, 10: 04 a.m. ET

Aug. 9, 2022, 10: 04 a.m. ET

Alan Blinder

Serena Williams has been a beacon to women in tennis and many other sports. Sarah Nurse, a star of the Canadian women’s hockey team that won gold at the Beijing Games, told me this summer that she didn’t look up to female hockey players as a child. Serena and Venus Williams resonated far more with her. “Maybe because they were athletic — they had big, strong bodies, which is something that I had growing up,” Nurse, 27, said.

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