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‘You might as well do you’: Serena Williams and the never-ending struggle to balance work, family

Serena Williams has lived a lifetime of firsts in her 40 years. And the tennis champion added another twist to her ample resume last week: retirement.

In a long, honest and provocative essay for Vogue, Williams said her desire to have a second child with husband Alexis Ohanian – and its associated health risks and parental obligations – meant saying farewell to a sport she has loved, dominated and redefined.

Once again, experts say, Williams has stayed true to her authentic self in a way that will serve as both inspiration to other women at such crossroads as well as a catalyst for change in sport.

“Serena was criticized for being vocal on court, for her hair, for being from Compton, for her body type, for the clothes she wore, for having a baby, for coming back after having a baby, so I’m just appreciative to have been able, particularly as a Black woman, to share in some understanding of her lived experience,” says Akilah Carter-Francique, Dean of the School of Education, Health and Human Services at Benedict College in South Carolina.

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