Captain Sarah Hunter will retire after England's opening Women's Six Nations match against Scotland in her home city of Newcastle on Saturday.
The back-row forward, 37, is the world's most-capped women's player with 140 caps, and is also England's most-capped player, male or female.
Since her debut in 2007, Hunter has won one World Cup and 10 Six Nations titles, including nine Grand Slams.
"Everything has to come to an end at some point," she told BBC Sport.
"The RFU kindly put a Red Roses game finally at Newcastle, which is my home city where I grew up. I just couldn't not give it a go to play in the game.
"I started playing rugby in Newcastle, finishing there feels like I've come full circle."
Kingston Park, where Hunter first played rugby union on the back fields and once sold matchday programmes so she could watch Newcastle Falcons play, is sold out for England's match.
The Loughborough Lightning player will be featuring in her 16th Women's Six Nations and her impressive career has included winning World Player of the Year in 2016 and being appointed an MBE in 2015.
Hunter also reached four World Cup finals with England, winning in 2014 and losing to New Zealand in 2010, 2017 and 2022 - captaining the Red Roses in the last two.
England will host the 2025 World Cup but Hunter had already confirmed she would not play in that tournament, and now admitted that "if things had been different" and her side had won the 2022 final, she might have retired straight away.
Marlie Packer - named as co-captain for the Women's Six Nations earlier this month - is expected to lead the side now, and Hunter says she "can't think of a better person" for the role.
"When the dust settles and you can reflect on everything, I don't think I could have asked for more in the career that I've had," added Hunter.
"For that I'll be forever grateful."
Katy Daley-Mclean, who started playing with Hunter in her early teens before winning the World Cup together in 2014 with Daley-Mclean as captain, said: "I've been really fortunate to play with some of the greats of the women's game but I think Sarah tops that list.
"It's not because of the amount of caps she's won, it's just because of the person she is."
Emily Scarratt, another World Cup winner from 2014, described Hunter as "the best servant English rugby has ever had".
Scarratt continued: "Somebody who set the highest standards that we've all tried desperately to get anywhere close to.
"One of the best players definitely, one of the best leaders definitely but a million per cent, one of the best people.
"I don't know if there will ever be another Sarah Hunter but I'm very grateful to have played alongside her. If anyone deserves a long, restful and enjoyable retirement, it's her."