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Serena Williams 'Just Needed to Stop' Playing Tennis, but Teases 'I Definitely Can Still Come Back'

Tasos Katopodis/Getty

Serena Williams says never say never.

The tennis legend sat down with sister Venus Williams in a conversation with actor Bradley Cooper at the A+E Networks and the History Channel's History Talks in Washington, D.C., over the weekend.

In his role as interviewer, Cooper, 47, asked about Serena's retirement plans after she announced in August that she'd be stepping away from tennis to focus on her family. The 23-time Grand Slam champ played what might be her final game ever at the U.S. Open earlier in September.

"I just needed to stop," Serena, 40, explained, according to Variety. "I always said I wanted to stop when I'm playing really good tennis and winning and beating good players. For me, it's really about things I want to do spiritually and spending time with my daughter and family."

"As a super hands-on mom, I can't tell you how hard it was. I lost so many matches after I had [daughter] Olympia because it was so hard to be on the court," she continued. "I feel like I've given so much of my life to tennis, my entire life, that it's time to do something different for me and also work on other things."

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Serena Williams attends the Michael Kors fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Highline Stages on September 14, 2022 in New York City.
Serena Williams attends the Michael Kors fashion show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Highline Stages on September 14, 2022 in New York City.

Gotham/WireImage

RELATED: Serena Williams Tells Fellow Tennis Great Roger Federer: 'Welcome to the Retirement Club'

Serena then clarified that she has made the decision regarding her playing tennis for now, not forever. "I feel like if I want to come back, I definitely can still come back," she said.

Cooper also asked Venus, 42, and Serena about what it's like to know they have changed the game of tennis.

"For me, I want to do more," Venus said. "You want to be better every moment. It's never enough. If it was perfect, it still wasn't perfect enough."

Serena, for her part, added: "When you're on the inside, you can't see it. It's completely different when you're involved."

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Serena Williams of the United States celebrates victory during the Women's Singles First Round match against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro on Day One of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2022 in New York City
Serena Williams of the United States celebrates victory during the Women's Singles First Round match against Danka Kovinic of Montenegro on Day One of the 2022 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 29, 2022 in New York City

Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty

RELATED: Serena Williams Shares a Glimpse into Her Post-Tennis Life — and It Involves Moana and Lots of Sleep

Serena lost what was likely the final match of her legendary career at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sept. 2.

After battling it out over three intense sets, the 23-time Grand Slam champion lost to Australia's Ajla Tomljanović.

In her post-match interview, Serena got emotional as she thanked her parents, including her father Richard Williams, the focus of the Academy Award-winning movie King Richard.

"Thank you, Daddy. I know you're watching," she said, tearing up. "Thanks, Mom. Oh, my God."

"I thank everyone that's here, that's been on my side so many years, decades. Oh, my gosh, literally decades," she added. "But it all started with my parents. And they deserve everything. So I'm really grateful for them."

Saying that she thinks her tears "are happy tears," Serena went on to credit her big sister Venus for making her historic career possible.

"I wouldn't be Serena if there wasn't Venus, so thank you, Venus. She's the only reason that Serena Williams ever existed," she said.

Serena Williams, Venus Williams, richard williams
Serena Williams, Venus Williams, richard williams

Shutterstock

Serena previously made an appearance on Sept. 13 on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, where she was asked about her retirement.

Fallon, 48, questioned, "There's no chance of you pulling a Tom Brady?" referencing the Tampa Bay Buccaneer's brief retirement earlier this year. The tennis champ responded, "You know what? Tom Brady started an amazing trend."

"That's what I want to say," the athlete then laughed.

After watching the interview, Serena's husband Alexis Ohanian jokingly called out Brady, 45, on Twitter for putting the idea in her head.

"Dude @TomBrady I'm trying to plan a family vacation over winter break here ...." he wrote.

RELATED: Serena Williams Teases Return to Tennis After Retirement: 'Tom Brady Started an Amazing Trend'

Ohanian, 39, penned a touching message for his legendary wife after the tennis champion announced she'd be "evolving away from" the sport in August.

The Reddit co-founder shared a sweet photo of himself and the couple's 4-year-old daughter along with a heartfelt tribute to Serena's career and legacy.

"I've seen over the last 7 years how much y'all love my wife — what she means to so many, worldwide," wrote Ohanian. "It's unlike anything I've ever seen. Plenty of folks have told me 'how Reddit changed their life,' but the scale & impact of 'how Serena changed my life' stories absolutely dwarfs it."

He continued, "And that's just the stuff I hear when people come up to me to say hi. You simply cannot overstate the breadth and depth of influence she's had on so many people. As far as I can tell, she has no idea. @serenawilliams doesn't think about it, or even realize it."