Photo: SI
Serena William: Bio, Tennis Career, Achievements. Photo: SI

Who is Serena William?

Serena Williams is an American professional tennis player who has held the top spot in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings numerous times over her stellar career. Williams began intensive tennis training at age three. She won her first major championship in 1999 and completed the career Grand Slam in 2003. Along with her individual success, Serena has teamed with sister Venus Williams to win a series of doubles titles. In 2017, she defeated her big sister at the Australian Open to claim the 23rd Grand Slam singles title of her career.

Back to the Australian Open

Serena Williams returned to the Australian Open quarterfinals by getting past No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets here on Sunday.

The 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory put Williams one step closer to her record-tying 24th Grand Slam title overall and eighth championship at Melbourne Park.

Her most recent major trophy came at the Australian Open in 2017.

This was Williams' 62nd fourth-round match at a major tournament — and Sabalenka's second.

They played a similar brand of powerful tennis but Williams was barely better, stealing the last two games after what had been a 4-1 lead in the final set evaporated.

The 39-year-old American next faces either Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek.

Williams took the opening set 6-4, but Sabalenka broke serve three times in a row in the second to grab it by a 6-2 score.

Williams is trying to get closer to her 24th Grand Slam singles title and eighth at Melbourne Park.

Early Life and Family

Serena Jameka Williams was born on September 26, 1981, in Saginaw, Michigan, to Richard and Oracene Williams. The youngest of Richard's five daughters, Serena and her sister Venus would grow up to become great tennis champions.

Photo: Look
Photo: Look

Serena's father — a former sharecropper from Louisiana determined to see his two youngest girls succeed — used what he'd gleaned from tennis books and videos to instruct Serena and Venus on how to play the game. At the age of three, practicing on a court not far from the family's new Compton, California, home, Serena withstood the rigors of daily two-hour practices from her father.

The fact that the family had relocated to Compton was no accident. With its high rate of gang activity, Richard wanted to expose his daughters to the ugly possibilities of life "if they did not work hard and get an education." In this setting, on courts that were riddled with potholes and sometimes missing nets, Serena and Venus cut their teeth on the game of tennis and the requirements for persevering in a tough climate, Biography noted.

Tennis Career

In 1995, she turned to become a professional tennis player. Starting from the 304 rank, she zoomed up her way to make place for herself in the top 100, at the 99th rank, beating world No. 7 and world No. 4, before losing the semi-finals to world no. 5.

Year 1998 started what became a legacy in her tennis playing career as she recorded a victory at the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. The sisters went on to win two more doubles titles. She finished the year ranking at the 20th spot.

In 1999, she partnered with her sister to record a victory at the doubles in the French Open & Us Open. Furthermore, she outplayed Martina Hingis to emerge as the winner in the finals of the US Open Grand Slam singles tournament, thus becoming the second African-American woman ever to record the victory. She ended the year with the world no. 4 ranking.

In 2000, the William sisters not only won their first Wimbledon title, but teamed up for their first victory at the Sydney Olympics, wherein they bagged a gold medal in doubles. In the following year, they created history by winning the doubles title in the Australian Open, thus becoming the fifth doubles team to win all four Grand Slam women's doubles titles. She lost the US Open to her sister Venus in the finals. By the end of the year, her ranking stood at world no. 6.

The year 2002 was a spectacular year for Serena as she went on to win the French Open, the Wimbledon and the U.S Open. In the finals of all these three Grand Slam championships, she defeated her sister Venus Williams. As a result of these victories, she bagged the world no. 1 ranking, dethroning her sister from the top spot. She paired up with Venus Williams to win the women's doubles title at Wimbledon.
Photo: Blackfacts
Photo: Blackfacts

In 2003, she won the Australian Open, and once again she defeated her sister in the finals. By winning the Australian Open, she became only the fifth woman to achieve the rare feat of holding all the Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously. The others to achieve this feat were Maureen Connolly Brinker, Margaret Court, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova. This feat was hailed as 'Serena Slam’ by the press. She also won the doubles titles at the Australian Open in partnership with her sister.

The super-successful career graph met with a resounding halt as she succumbed to injuries which took a toll on her performance for a couple of years. She could neither defend her title nor her world ranking as she slipped past the world top 10.

Year 2007 marked the year of revival as she came over her physical, psychological and emotional pressure to record a victory at the Australian Open against Maria Sharapova, her third Australian Open and eighth Grand Slam singles title overall. By the end of the year, she scaled to the world number seven rank.

Working her way through the tournaments, she went on to record a victory at the 2008 US Open singles tournaments, outplaying Jelena Jankovic. She emerged as the runner up in the Wimbledon singles tournament against her sister. In the same year, she partnered with her sister to record a victory at the Wimbledon doubles tournament. Additionally, the duo won a gold medal at the Olympics too. She ended the year at world no. 2 and four singles titles, her best ever since her comeback.

Year 2009 saw the sisters bag all the limelight as they went on to record a victory at the Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open doubles tournament. The same year, she outplayed Dinara Safina at the Australian Open and her sister at the Wimbledon to get hold of the two singles title as well. She won five Grand Slam titles, putting her total Grand Slam titles at 23. She finished the year at world no. 1 rank, for the second time in her career

The sisters repeated their success streak at the 2010 the Australian Open and the French Open, thus defending their titles. They, however, lost the Wimbledon title. As for her singles victory, she outperformed Justin Henin and Vera Zvonareva at the finals of the Australian Open and the Wimbledon. She ended the year ranked no. 4 in singles, despite having played only six tournaments.

In 2011, she took a break, following a series of health issues as doctors found a blood clot in one of her lungs. Due to the same, she kept away from playing tennis for several months.

Not the one to remain idle for long, she returned to the court in 2012 and recorded a victory each at the Wimbledon and US Open singles tournament. She even went on to win the singles gold medal at the 2012 Olympics games. The same year, she paired with her sister to win the doubles title at the Wimbledon.

In 2013, she outclassed Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka to record a victory at the French Open and the US Open singles tournament. With this, she became the oldest US Open champion. Additionally she became the oldest person to win the WTA Championships and the fourth player to win the event four times or more.

In 2015, she defeated Maria Sharapova to win her 6th Australian Open singles title. She then went on to win the French Open and Wimbledon and thereby completed her second 'Serena Slam' (holding all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously)

In 2016, she lost to Angelique Kerber in the final of the Australian Open. In the French Open too, she lost in the finals. She bounced back to win the Wimbledon and equaled Steffi Graf's record of 22 Grand Slams in the Open Era. In the U.S Open, she lost to Karolína Plíšková in the semifinals and in the process lost her No. 1 ranking.

The year 2017 started on a promising note for Serena Williams. She defeated her sister Venus Williams to win the Australian Open. It was the 23 Grand Slam singles title of her career. Later on it was revealed that she was eight-weeks pregnant when she won the Australian Open. On account of her pregnancy, she has taken a break and intends to return to the playing court in 2018.

Apart from playing tennis, she has expanded her brand power to films, television and fashion. She starred and did voice roles for a couple of television shows and also appeared on the cover pages of various magazines. She launched her own line of clothing, ‘Aneres’ in 2004 and her signature collection of handbags and jewellery, Thefamouspeople note.

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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.

Private Life

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube

Serena married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in 2017, and gave birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian on 1 September 2017. It later emerged that she was 8 weeks pregnant at the time of the 2017 Australian Open, a tournament that she won, Sportskeeda reported.

Legacy and controversies

Photo: Essentiallysports
Serena and Venus. Photo: Essentiallysports

Serena and Venus, dubbed ‘the Williams sisters’, formed a path-breaking duo at the turn of the 21st century. They created many firsts, both for sisters and African-American players, by competing in and winning Grand Slam finals in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

The Williams sisters achieved tremendous success despite having faced racism and discrimination at several points of their careers, which made them inspirational role models for countless youngsters across the globe. Moreover, their style of play was also revolutionary; they introduced the women’s game to hitherto unseen levels of power and athleticism, and set the template for success in the modern era.

Over the last decade, however, Serena has carved out a wholly unique place for herself in the sport, distinct from that of her sister. She has reduced the women’s tour to ‘Serena and the rest’, and any tournament that doesn’t have her in the draw is immediately thrown into chaos. She has also repeatedly spoken out against racism, sexism and other important issues plaguing society, augmenting her role model status even more.

That said, she has also had to deal with a fair share of controversies over the years. At the 2001 Indian Wells tournament, she and her sister were scheduled to face each other in the semifinal, but Venus withdrew just minutes before the match due to injury. That prompted boos and racist chants from the crowd, which led to both the Williams sisters boycotting the tournament for more than a decade.

At the 2004 US Open, in her quarterfinal against Jennifer Capriati, Williams suffered a series of blatantly wrong line calls, which reportedly hastened the introduction of the Hawkeye replay system in tennis. At the 2009 US Open, she incurred a hefty fine after launching a verbal tirade laced with threats against the lineswoman who called a foot fault against her.

Most recently, she accused chair umpire Carlos Ramos of sexism after he handed her a violation for illegal on-court coaching during the 2018 US Open final.

Still, Serena Williams’ accomplishments and contributions to tennis far outweigh the controversies, and her glittering legacy will remain etched in the history books for eternity.

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