Serena Williams ‘paved the way’ for mothers to keep playing tennis, says Martina Navratilova
NEW YORK — Serena Williams “blessed me with her own motherhood in the way that she was always pushing the envelope in her sport — not only in her game on the court, but with her life,” Martina Navratilova said Saturday, hours after Serena announced she’s giving up tennis and her career.
Navratilova, an Olympic and Olympic gold medalist in doubles, said that Williams paved the way for both mothers to keep playing tennis after years of criticism from some of the sport’s most prominent players, including Andy Murray.
In May, Murray was suspended for three months for an anti-doping violation, and in subsequent interviews he blasted Williams, calling her “f***ing trash” and saying she would go down as one of the world’s “greatest champions.” His words were particularly poignant because they came during tennis’s annual Australian Open, the event where Venus and Serena Williams won three of the four grand slam titles.
Williams’ decision to retire from tennis came less than two weeks after her first grand slam title, at the French Open, where she beat Novak Djokovic in the finals to win her fourth consecutive grand slam title. A month before that, at Wimbledon, Williams won her first Grand Slam title. Her last match before retirement was a quarterfinal at the U.S. Open, where she lost to Sharapova.
Williams did not rule out a comeback — a topic she has long discussed.
“I always felt that I’d be successful if I had my own platform and my own schedule,” Williams said in her retirement news conference Saturday.
“But I also knew that no matter what I did, if I wasn’t successful, then I didn’t do anything right.”
Navratilova said Williams opened the way for women back in the 1990s to remain in the game after they had been criticized for their high-profile divorces or other family life decisions.
“That’s how much she had an effect on other women,” Navratilova said. “I think it’s a credit to her, to