In her first public appearance following her emotional farewell at this year’s U.S. Open, Serena Williams said she’s actually yet to hang her racquet and her chances of returning to the court are “very high.” According to The San Francisco Standard, the 41-year-old tennis great touched on her career and made the clarification during an appearance at TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco last Wednesday.
“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.”
The last competitive tournament Williams played was September’s U.S. Open. She bowed out of the competition following a third-round defeat to Ajla Tomljanovic. And though it was initially thought Williams was going to take a permanent breather after the competition, she told TechCrunch editor Jordan Crook that there’s a likelihood of her returning to the court. Williams was at the event to promote her Serena Ventures investment company. The firm secured outside funding to the tune of $111 million this year.
“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.”
“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 Williams returns to the court or not, her status as one of the greatest and most decorated tennis players in history cannot be overestimated. Off the court, the tennis great through her Serena Ventures has invested in over 34 startups over the past five years. The majority of the investments have gone to companies founded by women and minorities.
“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.”