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Serena Williams has announced she will soon retire from tennis

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

One of the most celebrated and accomplished athletes of all time, Serena Williams says she'll be retiring soon from tennis.

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Sportico journalist Kurt Badenhausen first saw Serena and her sister Venus play in the late 1990s.

KURT BADENHAUSEN: I thought Serena and Venus were going to change the game of tennis. And they did.

MARTINEZ: Williams has won an astounding 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the second most all time. But Badenhausen says her legacy stretches beyond the tennis court.

BADENHAUSEN: Back in 1999, you still didn't have equal pay at all the Grand Slam tournaments, and even now, there's pushback on the idea.

FADEL: Serena and her sister, Venus Williams, fought to make life better for women on and off the tennis courts. The sisters thrived in a sport typically dominated by white players and inspired so many. Badenhausen says the Williams sisters also brought a new level of worldwide interest to the sport.

BADENHAUSEN: They opened up a game to a whole 'nother generation of fans and followers. Tennis had traditionally been a very lily-white sport and still is to a large degree.

MARTINEZ: Serena Williams says she'll continue to support people of color and women-owned businesses through her investing group, and between prize money and endorsements, she'll retire with record earnings.

BADENHAUSEN: We estimate she earned $450 million from prize money and sponsorships, which is 40% more than any other female athlete ever.

MARTINEZ: And although she's stepping away from tennis, Badenhausen expects Williams to continue trailblazing.

BADENHAUSEN: I think her legacy is still being told. I think it's going to be a couple more decades before we really can write the full story of Serena Williams.

FADEL: Williams tells Vogue magazine she'll leave the sport later this summer after the U.S. Open, a tournament she's won six times. After that, Williams says she wants to focus on growing her family.

(SOUNDBITE OF CAMP LO SONG, "LUCHINI AKA THIS IT") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.