After playing professional tennis for nearly three decades, 40-year-old Serena Williams announced her retirement in a self-penned essay for Vogue‘s 2022 September Issue, where she also serves as the fashion magazine’s cover star.
“I’ve been reluctant to admit that I have to move on from playing tennis,” Williams wrote for the magazine. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me.”
Williams, who has won more Grand Slam singles titles than any other player in the Open Era, is expected to step on the court for the last time professionally at the 2022 U.S. Open in New York, which runs from August 29 – September 11. There, she’ll have her last chance to tie Margaret Court’s all-time record of 24 Grand Slam wins.
Below, we’ve gathered nine motivational quotes from the tennis icon, who knows how to give it her all — on and off the court.
On what makes a champion
“I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.” – The National, September, 2012
On successful women
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.” – Glamour, November, 2015
On the drive to win
“I just never give up. I fight to the end. You can’t go out and say, ‘I want a bag of never-say-die spirit.’ It’s not for sale. It has to be innate.” – LA Times, March, 2000
“I am lucky that whatever fear I have inside me, my desire to win is always stronger.” – Time, February, 2015
“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.” – Address to Mouratoglou’s Academy, July, 2020
Related: LeBron James’ Greatest Quotes
On being strong
“Being strong is never easy. Not in this world we are living in…. Standing up for yourself is not going to be easy, but it’s always eventually respected.” – Allure, January 2019
“You can’t fail if you do something and it doesn’t work out. That’s success. Maybe it wasn’t to the point of success where you wanted to do it, but it’s still success.” – People, November, 2016
“When I’m down, I talk to myself a lot. I look crazy because I’m constantly having an argument with myself.” – The Champion’s Comeback: How Great Athletes Recover, Reflect, and Reignite, 2016
On smiling through tough times
“I’ve had to learn to fight all my life – got to learn to keep smiling. If you smile things will work out.” – The Champion’s Comeback: How Great Athletes Recover, Reflect, and Reignite, 2016