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The first time Serena Williams held up the winner’s trophy at the US Open, the world was busy worrying about Y2K.

We were all just getting acquainted with MSN Messenger and a whole new form of mobile communication. Bill Clinton was President—he’d been impeached and acquitted by the Senate a few months before—and by then, almost everyone in the country had seen the summer’s big blockbuster, Star Wars: Episode 1—The Phantom Menace

In those final, sweltering days of summer 1999 in New York, September 11th was just another day on the calendar. No one had heard of an iPhone—it wouldn’t be invented for another eight years. If you’d asked someone if they were on Facebook or had Tweeted recently, you’d be met with blank, slightly concerned stares. 

Summer 1999 is when 17-year-old Serena arrived on the professional tennis scene with a bang.

She won the US Open that year, beating No. 1 ranked Martina Hingis in straight sets. It was the first of her now-23 Grand Slam titles, the most of any player, male or female. By now, she’s become a household name, tennis fan or not. 

At the 2022 US Open, she walked on court at Arthur Ashe Stadium first round to thunderous applause as the greatest female athlete of all time. It’s the final run for 40-year-old Serena; she announced she’ll retire from professional tennis after this year’s US Open.  

And a big reason she’s walking away was sitting courtside for that opening round match, wearing a sparkling tennis outfit to match her mom’s, and adorably snapping photos with a pink checkerboard-patterned camera.

In the personal essay in Vogue magazine announcing her retirement, Serena wrote about 5-year-old daughter, Olympia: “We’re in my car, and she’s holding my phone, using an interactive educational app she likes. This robot voice asks her a question: What do you want to be when you grow up? She doesn’t know I’m listening, but I can hear the answer she whispers into the phone. She says, ‘I want to be a big sister.'”

Serena has talked openly about her desire to grow her family with husband Alexis Ohanian—and how the tension between that and the demands of a professional tennis career brought her to a crossroads

But, as Serena wrote, the way forward was clear: “The fact is that nothing is a sacrifice for me when it comes to Olympia. It all just makes sense. I want to teach her how to tie her shoes, how to read, where babies come from, and about God. Just like my mom taught me.”

It remains to be seen if Serena will cap off her career with a 24th title and get the storybook ending I’m sure she dreams of, the one fans would love to see.

Honestly? It doens’t really matter. 

Because Serena’s been teaching us since before we all got our first flip phones. About tenacity and grit. About comebacks and rising above. About family and ferocity. About work and motherhood.

And it’s been quite a ride. Best of luck in your next chapter, Serena! 

 

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Carolyn Moore

Carolyn has served as Editor-in-Chief of Her View From Home since 2017. A long time ago, she worked in local TV news and fell in love with telling stories—something she feels grateful to help women do every day at HVFH. She lives in flyover country with her husband and five kids but is really meant to be by the ocean with a good book and a McDonald's fountain Coke. 

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