Macci: Venus Should Retire When She Wants To
Nov 06, 2023
For many fans and veteran tennis writers, it was painful to watch Venus Williams lose at a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium in the first round of the U.S. Open to a qualifier.
Some columnists and fans said on social media that it was time for her to end her 30-year career on the WTA Tour. Williams, 43, had lost to Greet Minner 6-1, 6-1, and appeared to be hampered by a leg injury.
Unlike her younger sister Serena a year ago, Venus Williams has not announced she’s retiring. And Rick Macci, who coached the sisters during their formative years, emphatically says Venus should retire when she wants to.
“I love Venus and Serena, they were both like my daughters,” Macci said in an interview with Florida Tennis at his academy in Boca Raton. “ We’ve got to back the truck up to 1991. The best decision I ever made was going to Compton, California, and seeing what I saw. As they say, the rest is history.
“But here we are all these years later, what an amazing career. Seven Grand Slam titles, five Wimbledons, a role model to so many people around the world. She really, in my opinion, changed the game, as I said she would. She transformed the game and brought a different athlete. Big, tall, strong, and fast.
“Usually in the early 90s if you were big and strong, you weren’t nimble. Then the Compton Comet was going to bring a whole different athlete into women’s tennis.”
Macci added, “But here we are and she’s still playing. And people ask me, even Good Morning America when we did the little thing on Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open, what do I think? I don’t think she should retire. I think she should keep playing, and here’s why.
“If she wants to play, and that’s up to V.W., she should play. She has nothing to prove, she loves to play.
“Listen, it’s hard for any athlete to let go. You can’t worry what other people think. You can’t worry so much how you’re playing. You can’t look at it like that. V.W. wants to play. She should play.”
Williams was ranked 410 in the world as she entered the U.S. Open, a tournament she has won twice. Her loss to Minner dropped her match record at the tournament to 79-21.
“Now, what’s crazy at the U.S. Open her footwork was a little shaky,” Macci said. “That’s what I noticed. And let’s face it, if you’re not in position, you’re going to have to be a magician.
Above: Earlier in her career, a look at Venus Williams backing up to hit an overhead during the clay court season. Photo: @ArtSeitz.
“So the footwork was a little shaky, it was magnified because it was at the U.S. Open, and she played someone who wasn’t that good. And she should have won on paper, obviously, so people make it more than what it is.
“But if we back that truck up, two weeks prior (at Birmingham, England) she beat number 14 in the world (Camilla Giorgi). But that was on grass. And grass is where Venus made her living at Wimbledon. She’s more aggressive, the points aren’t as long, you get more value out of your serve.
“So, the grass is where she can do more damage. And she had a good run at Wimbledon, she was competitive.
“I just think longer rallies and then the injuries. As you get older it takes longer to recover. But all that being said, I don’t think she should retire. I think V.W. feels she still can compete.
“At the end of the day I don’t think it’s anybody’s place to tell an athlete in any sport when they should stop. I mean, it’s their life. It’s their career.”
Macci continued, “You’ve got to remember, as I said, she did beat 14 in the world even though she had a bad loss. People have bad losses. As long as she enjoys it, and she feels she wants to do it, V.W. will let us know when it’s game, set, match.”
After Williams lost at the U.S. Open, ESPN analyst Chrissie Evert said, “She needs to soul search and think about her future . . . She loves it so much, how can you ask her not to play?” Evert added, “I know she can move better. She’s got to be healthy.”
On social media after the U.S. Open loss, Williams wrote: “Each year, it’s so much fun to compete with the best out there, and I’m always pushed to do my best. On and off the court, I give it my all. My injuries are still bothering me, and I thought I could do something different this year. Many thanks to all of my fans, friends, and families!”
And they will get to see her again in 2024. In late October the WTA Tour quoted her as saying on social media: “I am targeting March, that’s when the Tour goes back to the States, so my goal is to be up and running when the tournaments come back to the States.”
That likely means she’ll play in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, California, March 6-17 and the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium March 20-31. Or maybe she’ll begin at a new tournament in Austin, Texas February 26-March 3.
Written by Florida Tennis Founder and Editor Jim Martz. Top Photo: Edwin Martinez via Flickr (CC BY 2.0 DEED). This article also appears in the November/December 2023 issue of Florida Tennis Magazine. Be sure to subscribe for expanded coverage, exclusive interviews, and in-depth tennis news.