Serena Williams believes she should have ended her career with "30-plus Grand Slams" in the singles following her announcement to "evolve away" from tennis.
Williams, who currently has 23 to her name, will finish her career one short of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 major titles - unless she can win the upcoming US Open, where the 40-year-old is expected to sign off from the sport.
Williams broke the news of her retirement in a first-person confessional for Vogue, where she revealed that the topic has been a taboo even in her closest circles, and how even now she is not altogether at peace with the decision, partly due to missing out on the records she had targeted, but also because a male player would not need to step away should they be wanting to have more children.
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'I just needed to stop' - Williams opens up about retiring at US Open
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Playing at this week's Canadian Open, Williams said: "There are people who say I’m not the GOAT because I didn’t pass Margaret Court’s record of 24 grand slam titles, which she achieved before the 'open era' that began in 1968.
"I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want that record. Obviously I do.
"But day to day, I’m really not thinking about her. If I’m in a grand slam final, then yes, I am thinking about that record. Maybe I thought about it too much, and that didn’t help.
"The way I see it, I should have had 30-plus grand slams.
"I had my chances after coming back from giving birth. I went from a C-section to a second pulmonary embolism to a grand slam final. I played while breastfeeding. I played through postpartum depression.
"But I didn’t get there. Shoulda, woulda, coulda. I didn’t show up the way I should have or could have. But I showed up 23 times, and that’s fine. Actually it’s extraordinary.
"But these days, if I have to choose between building my tennis résumé and building my family, I choose the latter."
It's hard to remember Williams losing many slam finals, but in her career to date that number has been as many as ten - so the "30-plus slam" claim does carry weight.
And here are some of her nearest misses.

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY, PART 1

Just what happened in that Munich restaurant on July 7, 2010? Here is Williams' account of the night - four days after winning her fourth Wimbledon - that she stood on broken glass, and which resulted in her developing life-threatening blood clots.
"We were leaving the restaurant, I was walking and then I felt something," she said.
"I just stepped back and said, 'Oh, that really hurts'. There was a massive pool of blood. I was like, 'Oh my gosh'.
"I ended up fainting because I lost so much blood. I ended up getting stitches in both feet. One was on top and one was on the bottom of my other foot. It sliced right through my ligament. I didn't know that, I just knew that my toe was hanging low.

Serena sees 'light at the end of the tunnel' as career nears end

"The second surgery on my foot was way tougher than the first, especially mentally. More mentally tough than anything I have been through in my life outside of my sister's passing [Yetunde Price, who died in 2003]."
As a result of her injuries, Williams missed three Slams in a row - the 2010 US Open and the Australian and French Opens in 2011 - all of which she would've been in contention to win.
Somehow though, the Michigan native rebounded to reach the final of the 2011 US Open, where she was fancied to beat Australian Sam Stosur.
It didn't turn out like that however as Williams got embroiled in a verbal spat with umpire Eva Asderaki, losing the match in straight sets 6-2, 6-3.
However, the way that match unfolded seemed to have ultimately favourable consequences, as Williams went on to win the next three US Opens between 2012 and 2014.

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY, PART 2

Alongside 2002, 2015 was the most successful year of Serena's career - at least in Grand Slam terms - as she walked away with three majors, taking her overall tally to 21.
More of the same was expected in 2016 then as Court's slam record began to loom into view.
But though Williams reached the final of both the Australian and French Opens in 2016, she won neither, losing to Angelique Kerber in Melbourne and then Garbine Muguruza at Roland-Garros.
The three-set loss to Kerber was the most extraordinary, given that Williams hadn't lost as much as a set to the German in four years, and that she held a 6-0 record in Australian Open finals prior to then.
Perhaps scarred by that defeat and reportedly carrying an adductor injury, Williams was then outgunned by a lights-out performance from Muguruza in Paris, having once again held a spotless final record at Roland-Garros of 3-0 going into the match.

THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY, PART 3

Williams - having won the Australian Open in 2017 while two months pregnant - announced she would miss the rest of the year following the news she was expecting.
She was to miss four slams in a row, returning for the French Open in 2018.
Following her complicated pregnancy, it was astonishing that Williams was back competing at all, and even more remarkable that she managed to make the final of Wimbledon in just her second slam back, and only nine months after giving birth.

'Williams retirement announcement was weird but she will have everyone's support'

She lost out again to Kerber, and began a run of four slam finals that were to end in defeat - all in straight sets.
Next was the US Open in 2018, which - like in 2011 against Stosur - saw Williams lose focus via a stand-off with the chair umpire, this time Carlos Ramos, who gave the American two code violations as she went down to Naomi Osaka, 6-2 6-4.
Williams was another year down the comeback line in 2019, and when she lined up against Simona Halep in the Wimbledon 2019 final, she could once again taste that 24th slam.
But - as she admitted in her Vogue piece - she seemed to "think too much about" these situations, and Halep strode clear to win in under an hour.
Another chance came at the US Open two months later, but this time it was Bianca Andreescu who denied Williams her dream, as the 19-year-old turned in a tournament for the ages to see off Williams, despite a spirited late comeback.
Having got her 21st slam at 33 years old, it had looked like Williams would have the time to go past Court. But the fact she could only add two more in her final seven years on tour showed the strength of her competitors and the difficulty of winning one - let alone 23.

SERENA'S ABSENCES - WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN...

As well as the Slams she lost in, Williams has missed a remarkable 18 majors during her career.
The Munich incident was one of Serena's worst injuries, and it resulted in that three-slam absence.
Here all are the times she was on the sidelines...
INJURED
  • Wimbledon 1999
  • French Open 2000
  • Australian Open 2002
  • US Open 2003
  • Australian Open 2004
  • French Open 2005
  • French Open 2006*
  • Wimbledon 2006*
  • US Open 2010
  • Australian Open 2011
  • French Open 2011
  • US Open 2021
  • Australian Open 2022
  • French Open 2022
MATERNITY
  • French Open 2017
  • Wimbledon 2017
  • US Open 2017
  • Australian Open 2018
*Williams later admitted in her biography that she had been suffering from depression during this period
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