Iconic Women

Tennis Legend, Serena Williams

By Aisha Kabiru Mohammed | Feb 15, 2023

"I’ve had to learn to fight all my life – got to learn to keep smiling. If you smile, things will work out.” - Serena Williams


Serena Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan on September 26, 1981, to Oracene Price and Richard Williams. She is the youngest of Price's five daughters, who include half-sisters Yetunde, Lyndrea, and Isha Price, as well as her full older sister Venus. In addition, she has at least seven paternal half-siblings. 

The family relocated to Compton, California, when the children were young, and she began playing tennis at the age of four. Her father educated her and her sister, Venus, at home. While he and her mother were her official coaches, her other mentors included Richard Williams, a Compton man who shared her father's name and later founded The Venus and Serena Williams Tennis Tutorial Academy. 

Williams' parents wanted her to wait until she was 16 before competing in professional tournaments. Williams planned to make her professional debut as a wild-card entry in the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland, California, in 1995, just after turning 14, but the WTA denied her access due to age-eligibility restrictions. 

She later filed an antitrust lawsuit against the women's tour but withdrew it at the request of her parents. Her first professional event was the Bell Challenge in Quebec in October 1995, where she used a wild-card entry to avoid age restrictions. She was defeated in the first qualifying round by then-18-year-old American Annie Miller, who won only two games.

Williams won her first professional singles title in the final of the Open Gaz de France in Paris, defeating Amélie Mauresmo. Venus won the IGA Superthrift Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, on the same day, making the pair the first sisters to win professional tournaments in the same week. 

Williams won her first Tier I title in March of that year at the Evert Cup in California, defeating Steffi Graf in the final. Soon after, at the Miami Masters, Williams' 16-match winning streak was broken by her sister in the first all-sister singles final in WTA history, and she entered the top 10 for the first time, at No. 9. She then lost in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open, the German Open, and the French Open.

Williams is a strong baseliner whose game revolves around her powerful serve and powerful groundstrokes. Because of her high-risk playing style, she frequently makes both winners and unforced errors. Williams' most valuable asset is her serve, which is widely regarded as the best in women's tennis history. 

Her serve is known for its fast pace and accurate placement, which allows her to serve numerous aces: in the third round of the 2013 Australian Open, she served a 128.6 mph (207 km/h) ace against Ayumi Morita, which is the third fastest serve recorded in WTA history.  Williams has an accurate and consistent ball toss, allowing her to serve to any position on the court with only minor variations in the position of the ball.

She is married to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. He proposed to her on December 10, 2016, in Rome. On December 30, 2016, Williams announced their engagement in a Reddit post.

Serena Williams is widely regarded as one of the greatest female tennis players. Williams was voted the greatest female tennis player of the Open Era by BBC Sports viewers in 2017. Sue Barker, a BBC presenter and former French Open champion, stated "Serena is the best because this era is far more competitive than previous ones. The pace she generates - her serve is undoubtedly the best ever- combined with her movement and power, puts her opponents on the back foot all the time."


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