The careers of Tiger Woods and Serena Williams have a lot of parallels.
Both transcended their respective sports during a similar timeframe and arguably became the greatest to ever play. And now both are in the twilight of their competitive days. On Tuesday, Williams wrote in a first-person essay on Vogue.com that she is planning to "evolve" away from tennis after the U.S. Open, and that she leaned on Woods for advice about how to wind down her career.
"This spring, I had the itch to get back on the court for the first time in seven months," Williams wrote . "I was talking to Tiger Woods, who’s a friend, and I told him I needed his advice on my tennis career. I said, 'I don’t know what to do: I think I’m over it, but maybe I’m not over it.' He’s Tiger, and he was adamant that I be a beast the same way he is! He said, 'Serena, what if you just gave it two weeks? You don’t have to commit to anything. You just go out on the court every day for two weeks and give it your all and see what happens.' I said, 'All right, I think I can do that.' And I didn’t do it. But a month later, I gave it a try. It felt magical to pick up a racket again. And I was good. I was really good. I went back and forth about whether to play Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open after that. As I’ve said, this whole evolution thing has not been easy for me."
Williams, 40, suffered a hamstring injury at Wimbledon in 2021. She was sidelined for several months, but behind Woods' advice, returned to competition at Eastbourne in June. The following week, she played Wimbledon but lost in the first round. In a tune-up before the U.S. Open, Williams is currently playing the Canadian Open and won her first match in 14 months on Monday.
Woods, 46, in February 2021 was involved in a life-threatening car crash. He worked his way back to play December's PNC Championship with his son, Charlie, and finished runner-up. He then played the 2022 Masters and PGA Championship, making both cuts. However, due to his injury, the only other event he's played since the crash was The Open at St. Andrews, where he missed the cut.
There were doubts if both would ever play again competitively, but, even with their glory days likely in the rearview, both have decided they have a little left in the tank to try and accomplish record-breaking wins.
Woods is currently tied with Sam Snead for the most PGA Tour victories (82) and is three behind Jack Nicklaus's record of 18 major wins.
Williams later this month at Flushing Meadows will follow the Big Cat's advice by giving it her all for two weeks as she tries to go out on top with a 24th Grand Slam title, which would tie Margaret Court's record for most all-time.