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Tennis icon Serena Williams pens essay announcing retirement

The 23-time Grand Slam winner says she wants to focus on growing her family and her business.

NEW YORK — After decades as a professional tennis star, Serena Williams says it's time to move on to new things. 

The 23-time Grand Slam winner announced her retirement in a personal essay released Tuesday by Vogue -- though she said that the term "retirement" doesn't sound modern to her. 

"Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution," she wrote. "I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me."

The former No. 1 ranked women's tennis player and four-time Olympic gold medalist said she wants to focus on growing her family and her business venture firm. 

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"My goodness do I enjoy tennis," Williams, 40, wrote on Instagram. "But now, the countdown has begun. I have to focus on being a mom, my spiritual goals and finally discovering a different, but just exciting Serena. I'm gonna relish these next few weeks."

She said she's looking forward to the remaining tournaments of her decades-long tennis career -- even if she isn't confident in a win. She hinted that her last tournament will be the upcoming U.S. Open.

"Unfortunately I wasn’t ready to win Wimbledon this year," she wrote in Vogue. "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 said she was two months pregnant with her now 4-year-old daughter when she won the Australian Open in 2017. It's a feat she doesn't want to attempt again as she and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, try for another baby.  

"...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," she wrote. "I definitely don’t want to be pregnant again as an athlete. I need to be two feet into tennis or two feet out."

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Williams is playing this week in Toronto, at a hard-court tournament that leads into the U.S. Open. That is the year’s last Grand Slam event and one she has won six times, most recently in 2014, to go along with seven titles apiece at Wimbledon and the Australian Open, plus three at the French Open.

A victory Monday in Toronto was Williams' first tour win in a singles match in more than a year.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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