Born on September 26, 1981, Serena Williams managed to etch her name in tennis folklore as one of the greatest players ever to have walked the earth. With talks of her decision to call time on her career making waves in courts across the world, we look at some of the greatest achievements she recorded during her stint as a professional player.
1. Winning the most Grand Slam titles in the Open Era
The consensus GOAT in women’s tennis, Serena Williams, is a force to reckon with on the court. Her successes on some of the biggest platforms in world tennis, Grand Slams, validate the fearsome reputation that she has built over time. Williams boasts of the highest number of Grand Slam titles, 23, won by any player, male or female, in the Open Era. Margaret Court is the only player who has more Majors titles to her name than Williams. Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka, Jennifer Capriati, and Justine Henin, hold a total of 26 Grand Slam titles between the five of them, which is merely three more than the tally of Serena’s Grand Slam titles.
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2. Becoming the oldest ever Grand Slam champion
Tennis, being an incredibly taxing sport, takes a huge toll on players as far as their physiological health is concerned. However, with breathtaking advancements in the realm of medicine, physiotherapy and more, players have been afforded the opportunity to extend their careers. However, it may not always be at the highest level. Serena Williams, on the other hand, has managed to rise to the occasion time and time again, successfully cementing herself as the oldest female player to win a Grand Slam championship. She laid claim to the title by outperforming her elder sister, Venus Williams, at the 2017 Australian Open. She performed the feat at the age of 35 years, 4 months and 2 days.
3. Winning a Grand Slam during her pregnancy
Pregnancy is undoubtedly the most physically and mentally strenuous experience for a woman. While it is not as challenging, winning a major tournament or a Grand Slam is no cakewalk either. However, winning a Grand Slam while carrying a baby is one of, if not the most, arduous and awe-inspiring feats an athlete could ever perform. Only those with the strongest will could manage to complete the task, and Serena Williams is one of those athletes who stepped up and how!
Williams dominated her way to the pinnacle of women's tennis while she was carrying a child. The American won her record-breaking 23rd Grand Slam singles title while she was eight weeks pregnant at the 2017 Australian Open.
4. Dominating the Olympics
The Olympics can easily be defined as the epitome of athletic excellence in the world. To prove oneself on the global stage that is the Olympics, is something that every athlete dreams of. Only the most talented and fortunate athletes are afforded the opportunity to the same even once, let alone repeatedly. However, Serena Williams managed to fight her way to the top at the Olympics on not just one, but four occasions. She won two doubles gold medals at the Olympics, partnering up with her sister, Venus Williams, at Sydney and Beijing in 2000 and 2008, respectively. It was at the 2012 London Olympics that Williams shone the brightest, laying claim to her first and only gold in the singles category. Furthermore, she also defended her gold medal at the London Olympics with her sister, Venus.
5. Winning the Golden Slam in 2012
The 2012 London Olympics hold a special place in the heart for Serena Williams. The Games offered her the opportunity to memorialise herself as only the second player, after Steffi Graf, to record a career Golden Slam, winning all four Grand Slams and the Olympic gold in the singles category while competing against Maria Sharapova in the finals.
6. Winning a Surface Slam
Surface Slams are an extremely rare occurrence in world tennis. It is when a player records Grand Slam wins on each of the three court surfaces, including clay, hard and grass. Serena wrote her name in the history books as the third player after Martina Navratilova and Steffi Graf to win a Surface Slam by emerging triumphant at the final three Majors of the year of 2002. Venus Williams featured in all three of those finals against Serena. However, it was the younger sibling who emerged triumphant on every instance without dropping a single set.
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7. Introducing the world to the 'Serena Slam'
A Serena Slam can be defined as the phenomenon of winning four of the major Grand Slams consecutively in different calendar years. Williams managed to record a Serena Slam by winning the four Majors over the course of the 2002 and 2003 seasons. Williams astonishingly managed to record the same feat yet again over the course of the 2014 and 2015 seasons.
8. Third-highest tenure as the top-ranked player
Following the likes of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams boasts of the third-longest stint at the top of the food-chain in women's global tennis rankings. She first perched at the top in July 2002 and consolidated herself at pole for a whopping 57 weeks until August 2003 after which her position was usurped by Kim Clijsters. After four short stints at the top spot between the years of 2008 to 2010, Serena returned to the top spot for the longest period of time in August 2013. The American spent a whopping 186 weeks at the top spot, cementing a joint record. She remained at the top for more than three years before her exodus in September 2016. Unarguably the consensus G.O.A.T. when it comes to women's tennis, Serena Williams has truly done it all. Although she may be hanging her racquet up for good and riding off into the sunset sometime soon, she can look back at what has been an extremely successful career and be proud.
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9. She has won 14 grand slams doubles along with Venus
Apart from being a stellar singles champion, serena also holds a number of records in doubles, along with her sister Venus. Venus and serena have been playing doubles together off and on since 1997. Their first major success came at the French open of 1999 when they lifted the grand slam trophy for the first time. Venus was 18 while Serena was 17 at that time. By winning the 2001 Australian open, the duo completed the career doubles grand slam. Moreover, as they had already won the Gold Medal at the 2000 Olympics, they also completed a career doubles golden slam. Together, Venus and Serena, have won 14 Grand slam doubles titles. This is the third most in women's doubles behind the 18 titles of Natasha Zvereva and the record 20 titles won by Navratilova and Pam Shiver.
Venus and Serena have a 125- 14 win loss record at grand slams. Moreover, they have never lost a Grand slam final.
10. She became the first African American women to win a Grand Slam singles title in the open era
At the age of 14 Serena Williams made her professional debut in October 1995 at the Bell challenge in Quebec. However, she lost in the first round of qualifying to Annie Miller, who was 18 years old then. Serena recorded her first major wins at the Ameritech cup Chicago 1997. Ranked No. 304 she upset No.7 Mary pierce and No.4 Monica Seles. These were her first wins over top 10 players. Moreover, this made Serena the lowest ranked player in the open era to defeat two top-10 opponents in one tournament. She lost in semi-finals to no.5 Lindsay Davenport.
In 1999, Serena won her first professional singles title by defeating Amelie Mauresmo in the final of the open Gaz De France in Paris. The 1999 U.S. open may be considered as the breakthrough tournament of Williams. She stormed into the semi-final defeating Grand Slam champions Kim Clijsters, Conchita Martinez and Monica Seles in succession. In the semis serena defeated the defending champion, Lindsay Davenport. In the final, she defeated No.1 ranked Martina Hingis 6-3, 7-6 to win her first grand slam singles title.
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