When Serena Williams announced last week that she would be retiring from tennis, the Internet seemingly broke. Around the world, people were united with equal parts shock and admiration for a woman who has come to be known simply by her first name, whose prowess on the court has dominated the player rankings for decades, and whose unwavering dedication has seen her regarded as the GOAT.
To imagine a tour without Williams is a difficult task. Even while grappling with injuries and having welcomed a child, Williams was quick to reinsert herself back amongst the top players. But as she expressed, having to choose between family and a career is a sacrifice she no longer wants to make as Williams now looks to put her family first.
Not surprisingly, players and fans alike have been quick to voice their support for Williams after she made such an announcement. In it, she expressed her difficulty landing on such a decision, writing for Vogue: “There is no happiness in this topic for me. I know it’s not the usual thing to say, but I feel a great deal of pain. It’s the hardest thing that I could ever imagine. I hate it. I hate that I have to be at this crossroads. I keep saying to myself, I wish it could be easy for me, but it’s not. I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.”
Speaking about the impact Williams has had on his own athletic career, having been on the professional circuit together, Rafael Nadal expressed his gratitude for the star. “Plenty of memories,” he said.
Nadal went on to add, “Of course, from a selfish point of view it’s sad that she’s leaving the tour but, on the other hand, we can’t thank her enough for all the things that she did for our sport. I think she’s an amazing inspiration for a lot of people around the world and I think she deserves to choose whatever works for her better at this stage of her life. So I wish her all the best.”
Nadal’s comments come after his long-anticipated return to the court following his withdrawal from the Wimbledon semi-final against Nick Kyrgios a month ago after sustaining an abdominal tear. Nadal was slated to compete at the National Bank Open in Montreal last week but was still experiencing lingering discomfort in his abdominal muscle and withdrew as a result. Now, he seems to be making great progress, though he’s still cautious about his return, saying: “I hope to be ready.”
As he explained, “I had a small tear in the abdominal so it’s dangerous. The abdominal is the place that is dangerous because in every serve you put a lot of effort there, so I need to take things a little bit easier and do the highs the proper way. That’s what I’m trying to do. Try to be a little more conservative but I hope I can be ready to play.”
Rafael Nadal has started to serve again in the last week, but is capping training to just 10 serves per session as he works on gradually increasing the load. He also played his first set just two days ago and will return at the latest time possible on Wednesday. “Of course, I need some more days to analyse how things are going in terms of abdominal feeling,” he said.
“Because at the end of the day it’s more than one month without serving and without playing any set. So I need to analyse after every day that the abdominal is still OK with no feeling because, as I said, it’s a dangerous thing. But things are going well for the moment, so hopefully I can manage to be ready. I’m excited. I want to play tennis again on the tour. I’m having a good season, I’m enjoying it, so I want to enjoy this week in Cincinnati.”