Born26 September 1981
Why is she famous?
Serena Williams is one of the most renowned and established names in the world tennis circle. Immensely talented and skilled player, she throws away a power packed performance every time she is in the tennis court and leaves her opponents spell bounded. In her career spanning two and a half decades, she first gained the world no 1 ranking in 2002 and later regained the same on five more occasions. In her career so far, she has won 39 Grand Slam titles: 23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and 2 in mixed doubles. In 2002-03 and 2014—15, she achieved the rare feat of holding all the four Grand Slam titles simultaneously. What gives her the edge over other players of her generation is her fastest power-packed serve, followed by forceful groundstrokes from both her forehand and backhand swings and aggressive high playing style. She is also known for her mental toughness and her ability to strike back when the chips are down. The Williams sisters have changed the face of women's tennis with their power play and athleticism. By the dint of her sheer achievements, Serena Williams is considered among the all-time great women tennis players.
Infancy and Early Life
The youngest of five daughters born to Richard and Oracene (who goes by the nickname Brandy), Serena and the rest of the Williams family moved from her birthplace of Saginaw, Michigan, to Compton, a suburb of Los Angeles, California, when she was a baby. An economically depressed area, Compton is a rough, often violent neighborhood, and the Williams sisters occasionally witnessed exchanges of gunfire. An avid fan of tennis, Richard Williams envisioned his daughters as champions even before they were born. He bought books and instructional videotapes, teaching himself and his wife how to play tennis so they could then teach their daughters. Both Serena and Venus showed promise at a very early age, prompting their outspoken father to begin making predictions about their future success in the tennis world. Coached by her father, Serena entered her first tennis tournament at age four and a half, and her father recalls that, over the next five years, she won forty-six of the next forty-nine tournaments she entered. She and Venus both excelled in the highly competitive preteen circuit in Southern California, both attaining a number-one ranking in their respective age groups. Before reaching their teen years, the sisters had begun attracting attention far beyond the borders of their home state. They received offers for endorsement deals from sporting-goods companies and invitations to prestigious tennis camps.
In 1991 Richard Williams withdrew the girls from junior tournaments, a decision that was widely criticized by tennis insiders. The junior circuit is accepted as the conventional path to tennis stardom, but Richard wanted to protect his daughters from the intense competition and from what he perceived as racial hostility from other players. Richard invited teaching pro Rick Macci—who had earlier coached such tennis stars as Mary Pierce and Jennifer Capriati—to come to Compton and watch his daughters play tennis. Macci came, and he was impressed by the sisters' skill and athleticism. He invited them to study with him at his Florida academy, and soon after, the family relocated to the Sunshine State. The proceeds from a clothing endorsement contract for Serena and Venus allowed the family to purchase a home in Palm Beach Gardens, not far from the tennis school.
Start of Professional Career
Serena went professional at the age of 14, against her parent’s wish. At that age, she entered her first professional tournament after some setbacks by the WTA as a result of age issues in a prior event. Serena was ousted out of her first professional tournament after winning just two games.
After staying out of action in 1996, Serena return to the court was well received as she defeated prominent top 10 players, which earned her the 99th spot at the end of 1997.
1998, saw Serena and her sister, Venus, begin their journey to the peak of tennis after they won their first professional titles in doubles. At the end of 1998, Serena had catapulted to the 29th spot in the single’s rank. After losing in the third round of the Australian Open, a determined Serena strove hard to secure her first Professional singles titles, the Open Gaz de France. She also went on to win the IGA Super thrift classic with her sister, becoming the first sisters to win a professional tournament in the same week.
By 2000, after a series of lost and defeats, even failing to defend her titles in Paris and Indiana wells, she made up for those losses by picking up a gold medal in doubles alongside her sister at the Sydney Olympics.
Early 2002, injuries cut short her playing times as she had to retire from the semi-final match at the Medibank International Sydney and later withdrew from the Australian Open, upon returning from injury, she grabbed the Scottsdale, Arizona and her first Master title in the process becoming one of three players to defeat the world’s top 3 ranked players at one tournament, beating No. 3, Martina Hingis, in the quarterfinals, No. 2 Venus her sister in the semi-finals, and No. 1 Capriati, in the final. Later at Wimbledon, she defeated her sister Venus to win a Grand Slam singles title without dropping a set for the first time in her career which resulted in her climbing to the top spot rank of World No. 1 becoming the third African-American to hold that rank. She won three Grand Slam titles that year.
Again she fell in the deep waters of injury and got sidelined out of action for a period of eight months. She made a triumphant return in March 2004 and clinch the NASDAQ-100 Open title in Miami. She later went on to win the China Open.
During the 2005 Australian Open, the media made up discouraging suggestions stating Serena and her sister Venus were becoming a declining force in the game due to Venus’s early exit in the tournament but that didn’t steer off a determined Serena as she proves the media all wrong and went on to win her second Australian Open title defeating top seed, Davenport in the final. This win shot her to the No. 2 spot. The rest of the 2005 season filled with injuries, withdrawals and setbacks for Serena.
2006 was much more a tough year for Serena. She suffers from depression and stayed out of pro tennis for six months. She cut off and shut herself from the world for a period, seeing a therapist daily. But after meeting with a young girl who happens to be a die-hard fan of Serena she felt inspire and returned back to the court. She returns back to claim her third Australian Open and overall eight Grand Slam singles title despite not being seeded, overcoming mental, emotional and physical obstacles to do that. She dedicated the title to her late half-sister Yetunde. She won another three singles title at Bangalore and a fifth Miami title tying Steffi Graf for the most singles title won at this tournament. She picks up the gold medal in doubles alongside her sister at the Beijing Olympics.
She won her 10th Grand Slam singles title at the 2009 Australian Open in just 59 minutes a rare feat which returned her to the No. 1 spot and her becoming the all-time career prize money leader in women’s sport. She was named best female athlete of that year.
In 2015 at the Miami Open, she recorded her 700th match win in her career by defeating Sabine Lisicki and became the eight woman in the Open Era to do so. She completed her famous “Serena Slam” i:e winning all four Grand Slams in a row at the 2015 Wimbledon Championship, winning her sixth Wimbledon and 21st Grand Slam singles title overall.
The year 2016, she lost in the Australian Open and French Open finals. But she bounces back winning the Wimbledon singles tournament. She lost her No. 1 ranking.
Awards & Achievements
She is the only tennis player to ever accomplish a golden career grand slam in singles and doubles.
She has won 39 Grand Slam titles: 23 in singles, 14 in women's doubles, and 2 in mixed doubles. Her record of Grand Slam wins puts her third on the all-time list and second in the open era.
Grand Slam Single Wins: Australian Open (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017), French Open (2002, 2013, 2015), Wimbledon (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016), US Open (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)
Grand Slam Doubles Wins: Australian Open (2001, 2003, 2009, 2010), French Open (1999, 2010), Wimbledon (2000, 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2016), US Open (1999, 2009)
Along with sister Venus, she won a record 3 doubles gold in the Olympics as a team.
In 2013, she became the oldest no. 1 player at the age of 31 years and 4 months.
She is the only tennis player in history (man or woman) to have won singles titles at least six times in three of the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open)
She holds the record of winning the most women's singles matches at the Grand Slams.
In 2016, she earned $28.9 million in prize money and endorsements and thus became the highest paid female athlete in year.
Life outside of tennis
For much of 2004, Williams dealt with a recurring knee injury. She won the NASDAQ-100 Open in Miami for the third year in a row, but at many other tournaments of the year she was either defeated or had to withdraw due to injury. Her pursuits outside of tennis began taking up more of her time as well, particularly her efforts to become an actress. Beginning in 2002, Williams started earning guest roles on various television shows, including My Wife and Kids, Showtime's Street Time, and Law and Order. She also scored a part in Hair Show, a feature film completed in 2004. Williams told Alex Tresniowski of People magazine that she's a natural-born performer: "If I hadn't played tennis, I was destined to be an actress. I'm a complete drama queen."
Williams has, in spite of her tremendous wealth and success, remained down to earth. She is a devout Jehovah's Witness, a Christian denomination that involves intensive Bible study and the preaching of biblical teachings to others. While some have criticized the Williams sisters for what they perceive to be arrogance and unfriendliness, Serena and Venus have also developed a reputation for avoiding petty exchanges of insults among tennis players. As world-famous tennis stars, they have been the subject of numerous rumors and negative reports in the media, but they try to ignore such press. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey for O, The Oprah Magazine, Serena reported that she doesn't care what others think of her—"as long as my family knows who I am. And I know that a lie can't live forever. Most of the lies people tell about us are eventually washed away, so they don't bother me." Williams attributes her levelheadedness to her strong family relationships and spiritual background. "My mom raised us to be strong women," she told Winfrey. "We were taught that things like peer pressure didn't exist for us."
Personal Life, Marriage and child
On December 29, 2016, Serena Williams got engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and they married in New Orleans last November 16, 2017.
On April 19, 2017, Serena Williams announced her pregnancy and gave birth to their daughter,Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on September 1, 2017.
Serena Williams had a cesarean section delivery because of complications, particularly a blood clot in her lungs which is called a pulmonary embolism.
Serena has 2 dogs, named Jackie and Laura.
Besides English, Serena can also speak French, Italian and Spanish.
Serena is a huge Olympic pin collector.
“Growing up I wasn’t the richest, but I had a rich family in spirit. Standing here with 19 championships is something I never thought would happen. I went on a court just with a ball and a racket and with a hope.”
“Think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles and being made fun of or called unattractive.”
“I decided I can’t pay a person to rewind time, so I may as well get over it.”
“I think you have to love yourself before you fall in love. I’m still learning to love myself.”
“With a defeat, when you lose, you get up, you make it better, you try again. That’s what I do in life, when I get down, when I get sick, I don’t want to just stop. I keep going and I try to do more. Everyone always says never give up but you really have to take that to heart and really do never definitely give up. Keep trying.”
“The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”