Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player who has shattered almost every record in the sport and is widely regarded as the greatest female tennis player of all time.
Name: Serena Williams
Born: September 26, 1981
Turned Pro: 1995
Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan but her family moved to Compton, California when she was very young. She and her elder sister Venus were homeschooled by their father, while she began playing tennis at the age of four. When Williams was nine, her family moved to Florida so she could attend a tennis academy and improve her developing tennis prowess. After accumulating a 46-3 record on the USTA junior tour by the time she was ten, Williams began considering turning professional.
Williams’s first professional event was at the Quebec Bell Challenge in October 1995, where she lost in the first round of qualifying at age 14. Two years later, she recorded her first top-10 wins when she defeated fourth-seeded Monica Seles and seventh-seeded Mary Pierce at the Ameritech Cup Chicago. Ranked No.304, she became the lowest-ranked player in the Open Era to defeat two top-10 opponents in one tournament. Her stellar performance that year saw her end 1997 ranked No.99.
Williams made her Grand Slam debut at the 1998 Australian Open, upsetting sixth-seeded Irina Spirlea in the first round before losing to sister, Venus, in the second round. She proceeded to win the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open with Max Mirnyi, before winning her first WTA title in doubles at Oklahoma City with Venus.
After another first round exit at the 1999 Australian Open, Williams finally won her maiden WTA singles title at the Open Gaz de France, defeating Amelie Mauresmo in the final. She won her first Tier I title a few weeks later at the Evert Cup, upsetting Steffi Graf in the final at age 17. Subsequently, the American went on to win her first Grand Slam singles title at the 1999 US Open, becoming just the second African-American woman after Althea Gibson in 1958, to win a Grand Slam singles event. Furthermore, that season saw her break into the top 10, ending the year ranked No.4 in the world.
Over the next few years, Williams maintained her status as a top-10 player. She claimed her second Grand Slam title at the 2002 French Open, defeating Venus in the final and rising to No.2 in the rankings. This marked the beginning of the “Serena Slam”, as she would capture the other three Major titles and hold all four within a 12-month period. She also rose to World No.1 for the first time in her career on July 8, 2002, a position she would occupy several times during her illustrious career.
Following a number of breaks due to injuries, Williams would go on to capture 23 Grand Slam singles titles, the second most in Open Era history. The 38-year old American also holds a Career Golden Slam, having won all four Major titles on two separate occasions (2002-2003, 2014-2015) and singles Olympic Gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games. She has also won doubles Gold on three occasions with sister, Venus, in 2000, 2008 and 2012.
With over 70 career WTA singles titles and over 20 in doubles, Williams has held the No.1 ranking in both aspects of the sport. Furthermore, she became the oldest player to win a Grand Slam singles title and hold the World No.1 ranking when she did so at age 35 after winning the 2017 Australian Open. In 2020, she became the first player (male or female) to win a title in 4 different decades after winning the 2020 Auckland Open.
In addition to all her exploits on the tennis court, Serena Williams is also a philanthropist and has an interest in fashion. She supports numerous charitable organizations and is an International Goodwill Ambassador with UNICEF. Furthermore, she runs her own line of designer apparel, “Aneres” – which is Serena spelled backwards. She is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and the two have a daughter, Olympia. Williams was in fact 8 weeks pregnant with her child when she won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open.