How Serena Williams became Serena Williams.
Born in Michigan in 1981, Serena Williams grew up in the bosom of her family in a suburb of Los Angeles, where her father, Richard, pushed her to take up tennis alongside her elder sister Venus. Destiny had the same thing in mind for the sporting world’s most famous sisters.
When she clinched her first Grand Slam victory in Flushing Meadows (US Open) in 1999 against Martina Hingis, Serena Williams burst into the big time and became one of the international tennis elites.
Mature beyond her years, powerful, a high-achiever and hungry for trophies, the prodigal daughter of women’s tennis went on to win everything in sight. She was such a whirlwind that she even ousted her elder sister from the world number one spot after notching up a series of prestigious titles and was unbeatable on court until 2003.
With a playing style centred around her powerful serve and baseline shots, Serena Williams revolutionised 21st-century women’s tennis. Between 2012 and 2015 – in four short years – she won eight Grand Slam tournaments. To date, her honours list features 23 major singles titles, 16 in the doubles, and 4 Olympic medals. If she wins just one more major, Serena will match Margaret Court’s famous “24” and will then, unquestionably, be the greatest female player of all time.
Her game, her career, her longevity and her personality have catapulted her to the highest level of sport. She has had her fair share of injuries, difficult times, dramas (a pulmonary embolism, her sister’s murder) plus the inherent pressure of being a celebrity, but despite all these setbacks she has a well-deserved place in the Tennis Hall of Fame.
There is no doubt that, by the end of her career, the American champion will have left an indelible mark on the history of tennis.