Serena Williams is arguably the most dominant athlete of our time. While having competed professionally since 1995, she has won 23 Grand Slam titles, which is the most in the Open Era and second most in the sport’s history behind Margaret Court.
A Grand Slam entails winning all four major tennis championships within the same calendar year. This translates to 367 Grand Slam singles matches won.
Williams grew up in Compton, Calif. and was raised by Oracene Price and Richard Williams along with her sister, Venus Williams. Both of their parents introduced them to the game of tennis but Richard Williams, their father, became their coach that pushed them to excellence.
In 1999, Serena Williams won her first U.S Open at the age of 17 and went on to win her first Grand Slam title that same year. She recently turned 40 this year and in the past 23 years since her first Grand Slam has continued to hold impressive records and pave the way for other female athletes of color.
While all of Williams’ statistics speak for themselves, she has also made an impact off the court. She has broken records while experiencing discrimination, health problems and the birth of her daughter Olympia. The path that Williams has paved will allow more space for successful female athletes that deserve the same level of respect as their male counterparts.
Williams is the second highest-paid female athlete in the world, behind Naomi Osaka, and is number 31 overall. She has also used her fortune to support other female athletes. Williams has invested in numerous companies owned by women to further support her advocacy of women in sports.
During the 2018 U.S. Open, Williams spoke out about the double standard between male and female athletes showing emotion during a match. In the match, Williams faced a conflict with the umpire, which led her to being penalized for expressing anger. She later said that when a woman shows emotion she is perceived as hysterical, but when a man does he is seen as rational and there are no repercussions.
Williams has also faced several health-related issues. She has knowingly been at risk for blood clots, which led to complications when she gave birth to her daughter Olympia. Williams has recounted her near-death experience and what it took to come back to the sport after this incident. Williams played while breastfeeding and fighting postpartum depression, along with facing these medical complications. The achievements that she has accomplished in her career are great on their own, but taking into account the setbacks she has faced, they become all the more impressive.
Williams has dominated women’s tennis for over 27 years, and while she just recently announced her retirement, the legacy she has left on not only the sport, but in the world of athletics will carry on.