Serena Jameka Williams (born September 26, 1981) is an American professional tennis player who is a former World No. 1and currently ranked World No. 12 in singles and No. 20 in doubles with sister Venus Williams. The Women’s Tennis Association has ranked her World No. 1 in singles on five separate occasions. She regained this ranking for the fifth time on November 2, 2009. She became the World No. 1 for the first time on July 8, 2002. She is considered to be one of the greatest women’s tennis players of all-time in a career hampered by numerous injuries.
Williams is the reigning champion in singles at Wimbledon, and in women’s doubles at the French Open. Her 27 Grand Slamtitles places her ninth on the all-time list: 13 in singles, 12 in women’s doubles, and 2 in mixed doubles. She is the most recent player, male or female, to have held all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously and only the fifth woman in history to do so. Her 13 Grand Slam singles titles is sixth on the all-time list. Williams ranks fourth in Grand Slam women’s singles titles won during the open era, behind Steffi Graf (22 titles) and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (18 titles each). She has won more Grand Slam titles in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles than any other active female player.
Williams has won two Olympic gold medals in women’s doubles. She has won more career prize money than any other female athlete in history. Serena has played older sister Venus in 23 professional matches since 1998, with Serena winning 13 of these matches. They have met in eight Grand Slam finals, with Serena winning six times. Beginning with the 2002 French Open, they played each other in four consecutive Grand Slam singles finals, which was the first time in the open era that the same two players had contested four consecutive Grand Slam finals. The pair have won 12 Grand Slam doubles titles together.
Williams was born in Saginaw, Michigan to Richard Williams and Oracene Price. She is of African American heritage and is the youngest of Oracene’s five daughters: half-sisters Yetunde (died September 14, 2003), Lyndrea and Isha Price, and older sisterVenus. When the children were young, the family moved to the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, where Serena started playing tennis at the age of five. Her father home-schooled Williams and her sister Venus. To this end, Williams was and remains coached by both her parents.
Williams’s family moved from Compton to West Palm Beach when she was nine so that she could attend the tennis academy of Rick Macci, who would provide additional coaching. Macci spotted the exceptional talents of the sisters. He did not always agree with Williams’s father but respected that “he treated his daughters like kids, allowed them to be little girls”. Richard stopped sending his daughters to national junior tennis tournaments when Williams was 10, since he wanted them to take it slow and focus on school work. Another motivation was racial, as he had allegedly heard parents of white players talk about the Williams sisters in a derogatory manner during tournaments. At that time, Williams had a 46–3 record on the United States Tennis Association junior tour and was ranked No. 1 among under 10 players in Florida. In 1995, Richard pulled his daughters out of Macci’s academy, and from then on took over all coaching at their home. When asked in 2000 whether having followed the normal path of playing regularly on the junior circuit would have been beneficial, Williams responded: “Everyone does different things. I think for Venus and I, we just tried a different road, and it worked for us.”
Williams is primarily a baseline player. Her game is built around taking immediate control of rallies with a powerful and consistent serve (considered by some to be the best in the women’s game), return of serve, and forceful groundstrokes from both her forehand and backhand swings. Her serve is technically very sound and has been hit as hard as 129 mph (206.5 km/h), the second-fastest (after her sister Venus) all-time among female players.
Williams’s solid volleys—especially her drive volleys and powerful overheads—give her advantages at the net.She produces good drop volleys, a shot that not many players use.
Although Williams’ forehand is among the most powerful shots in the women’s game, her double-handed backhand is considered to be one of, if not the, best on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour. Williams can hit a winning backhand shot from any position on the court, down the line or cross court, even when on the defensive or otherwise under pressure. Williams strikes her backhand groundstroke using an open stance, and uses the same open stance for her forehand.
Williams’s aggressive style of play results in a relatively high number of unforced errors. This “high risk” style is balanced in part by her serve, which combines great power and placement with very high consistency.
Although many think of Williams as only an offensive player, she also plays a strong defensive game.
1995–99: Professional debut
Williams’s first professional event was in September 1995 at the Bell Challenge in Quebec City. She lost in the first round of qualifying to World No. 149 Annie Miller in less than an hour of play and earned US$240 in prize money.
Williams did not play a tournament in 1996. The following year, she lost in the qualifying rounds of three tournaments before winning her first main-draw match in November at theAmeritech Cup Chicago. Ranked World No. 304, she upset World No. 7 Mary Pierce and World No. 4 Monica Seles, recording her first career wins over Top 10 players and becoming the lowest-ranked player in the open era to defeat two Top 10 opponents in one tournament. She ultimately lost in the semifinals to World No. 5 Lindsay Davenport. She finished 1997 ranked World No. 99.
Williams began 1998 at the Medibank International Sydney. As a qualifier ranked World No. 96, she defeated World No. 3 Davenport in the quarterfinals before losing to Arantxa Sánchez Vicario in the semifinals. Williams made her debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament at the Australian Open, where she defeated sixth seeded Irina Spîrlea in the first round before losing to sister Venus in the second round, in the sisters’ first professional match. Williams reached six other quarterfinals during the year but lost all of them, including her first match against World No. 1 Martina Hingis at the Lipton International Players Championships in Key Biscayne and her second match against Venus at the Italian Openin Rome. She failed to reach the quarterfinals of any Grand Slam tournament the remainder of the year, losing in the fourth round of the French Open to Sánchez Vicario and the third round of both Wimbledon and the US Open, to Virginia Ruano Pascual and Spîrlea, respectively. She did, however, win the mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open withMax Mirnyi, completing the Williams family’s sweep of the 1998 mixed doubles Grand Slam tournaments. Williams won her first professional title in doubles in Oklahoma City with Venus, becoming the third pair of sisters to win a WTA title. The Williams sisters won two more doubles titles together during the year. Serena finished the year ranked World No. 20 in singles.
1999–2001: Becoming a top 10 player
Williams lost in the third round of the 1999 Australian Open to Sandrine Testud. The following month, she won her first professional singles title when she defeated Australian Open runner-up Amélie Mauresmo 6–2 3–6 7–6(4) in the final of the Open Gaz de France in Paris. With Venus also winning the IGA Superthrift Classic in Oklahoma City that day, the pair became the first sisters to win professional tournaments in the same week. A month later, Serena won her first Tier I singles title at the Evert Cup in Indian Wells, California, having defeated World No. 7 Steffi Graf 6–3 3–6 7–5 in the final. At the following tournament, the Tier I Lipton International Players Championships in Key Biscayne, Williams defeated World No. 1 Martina Hingis in the semifinals before Venus ended her 16-match winning streak in the first all-sister singles final in WTA history. On April 5, 1999, Serena made her top 10 debut at World No. 9.
Williams played three tournaments during the 1999 European spring clay court season. She lost in the quarterfinals of the Tier I Italian Open in Rome to World No. 1 Hingis and in the quarterfinals of the Tier I German Open in Berlin to World No. 7 Arantxa Sánchez Vicario. Serena and Venus won the women’s doubles title at the French Open, but Serena was upset by Mary Joe Fernandez in the third round of the singles competition. She then missed Wimbledon because of injury.
When she returned to the tour, Williams won a Fed Cup singles match before playing two tournaments during the 1999 North American summer hard court season. She won theJPMorgan Chase Open in Los Angeles, defeating World No. 1 Hingis in the semifinals and Julie Halard-Decugis in the final. Williams was seeded seventh at the US Open, where she defeated World No. 4 Monica Seles, World No. 2 Lindsay Davenport, and World No. 1 Hingis to become the second African-American woman (after Althea Gibson in 1958) to win aGrand Slam singles tournament. The Williams sisters also won the doubles title at this tournament, their second Grand Slam title with each other.
To complete 1999, Williams won a doubles match in the Fed Cup final against Russia, her third tournament of the year at the Grand Slam Cup in Munich, and lost in the second round of the tournament in Filderstadt. Williams ended the year ranked World No. 4 in just her second full year on the main tour.
Williams started 2000 by losing in the fourth round of the Australian Open to 16th seeded Elena Likhovtseva. She failed to defend her titles in Paris and Indian Wells, although she did win the Faber Grand Prix in Hanover. Williams missed the French Open because of injury. She returned at Wimbledon, where she lost to eventual champion Venus in the semifinals after Serena had lost just 13 games in advancing to the second Grand Slam semifinal of her career. The Williams sisters teamed to win the doubles title at the event. Williams successfully defended her title in Los Angeles in August, defeating World No. 1 Hingis in the semifinals and World No. 2 Davenport in the final. She reached the final of the Du Maurier Open in Montreal, Canada the following week where an injury forced her to retire from her match with Hingis. Her defense of the US Open title ended when she lost in the quarterfinals to second seeded Davenport. Williams teamed with Venus to win the gold medal in doubles at the Sydney Olympics in September. She then won her third singles title of the year the following week at the Toyota Princess Cup in Tokyo. She finished the year ranked World No. 6.
Williams played two tournaments in Australia at the beginning of 2001, losing to World No. 1 Hingis in the quarterfinals of both the tournament in Sydney and the Australian Open. Serena and her sister Venus won the women’s doubles title at the latter tournament, becoming only the fifth doubles team in history to win all four Grand Slam women’s doubles titles during their career, a “Career Grand Slam”.
She did not play again until March, when she defeated Kim Clijsters in the final of the Tier I Tennis Masters Series in Indian Wells, California. She advanced to the final there when Venus withdrew just before the start of their semifinal match. Venus claimed that an injury prevented her from playing, but the withdrawal was controversial. Neither Williams sister has entered the tournament since. The following week at the Tier I Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, Williams lost to Jennifer Capriati in the quarterfinals.
Williams did not play a clay court tournament before the 2001 French Open, where she lost in the quarterfinals to Capriati 6–2, 5–7, 6–2. Williams also did not play a grass courttournament before Wimbledon, where she again lost in the quarterfinals to Capriati 6–7(4), 7–5, 6–3, marking the fourth consecutive Grand Slam tournament at which Williams had exited in the quarterfinals.
Williams played three tournaments during the 2001 North American summer hard court season. After losing in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Los Angeles, Williams captured her second title of the year at the Tier I Rogers Cup in Toronto, defeating Seles in the semifinals and World No. 3 Capriati in the final. Williams was seeded tenth at the US Open, where she defeated World No. 6 and Wimbledon runner-up Justine Henin in the fourth round, World No. 3 Davenport in the quarterfinals, and World No. 1 Hingis in the semifinals before losing to sister Venus in the final. That was the first Grand Slam final contested by two sisters during the open era.
At the 2001-ending Sanex Championships in Munich, Williams defeated Silvia Farina Elia, Henin, and Testud en route to the final. She then won the championship by walkover when Davenport withdrew before the start of the final because of a knee injury. Williams finished 2001 at World No. 6 for the second straight year.
2002–03: Four consecutive Grand Slam singles titles
Injury forced Williams to retire from her semifinal match at the Medibank International Sydney and to withdraw from the 2002 Australian Open. She won her first title of the year at the State Farm Women’s Tennis Classic in Scottsdale, USA, defeating World No. 2 Jennifer Capriati in the final. She then won the Tier I Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne for the first time, becoming one of three players in the open era to defeat the world’s top three at one tournament, after beating World No. 3 Martina Hingisin the quarterfinals, World No. 2 and sister Venus in the semifinals, and World No. 1 Capriati in the final. Her 6–2, 6–2 win over Venus was her second career win over her sister.
Williams played three clay court tournaments before the 2002 French Open. She reached her first clay court final in May, at theEurocard German Open in Berlin, losing to Justine Henin in a third set tiebreak. The following week, Williams won her first clay court title at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, defeating Capriati in the semifinals and Henin in the final. This increased her ranking to a new high of World No. 3. Williams, as the third seed at the French Open, dropped just two sets en route to the final (including a victory over top seed and defending champion Capriati in the semifinals), where she defeated sister Venus 7–5, 6–3. This gave Serena the second Grand Slam title of her career and increased her ranking to World No. 2, behind only Venus.
At the 2002 Wimbledon Championships, Williams defeated Amélie Mauresmo 6–2, 6–1 in the semifinals to reach the final for the first time. There, she again defeated defending champion Venus 7–6(4), 6–3 to win a Grand Slam singles title without dropping a set for the first time in her career. This victory earned Williams the World No. 1 ranking, dethroning her sister and becoming only the second African-American woman to hold that ranking on the Women’s Tennis Associationcomputer. The Williams sisters also won the doubles title at the tournament, the fifth Grand Slam title for the pair in women’s doubles.
Williams played just one tournament between Wimbledon and the US Open, losing in the quarterfinals of the JPMorgan Chase Open in Los Angeles to Chanda Rubin, ending a 21-match winning streak. As the top seeded player at the US Open, she defeated former championLindsay Davenport in the semifinals to reach the final for the third time. Playing Venus in the third consecutive Grand Slam final, Williams won once again, 6–4, 6–3, to win her second US Open title and fourth Grand Slam singles title.
Williams won two consecutive singles titles in the fall, defeating Kim Clijsters to win the Toyota Princess Cup in Tokyo and Anastasia Myskina to win the Sparkassen Cup in Leipzig, Germany. She reached the final at the year-ending Home Depot Championships, where she lost to fifth seeded Clijsters in straight sets, ending her 18-match winning streak.
Williams finished 2002 with a 56–5 record, eight singles titles, and the World No. 1 ranking. She was the first African-American (male or female) to end a year with that ranking since Althea Gibson in 1958. She was the first woman to win three Grand Slam titles in one year since Hingis in 1997.
At the 2003 Australian Open, Williams was just three points from losing to Émilie Loit in the first round before eventually winning. Williams went on to reach the semifinals for the first time, where she recovered from 5–2 down in the third set and saved two match points before defeating Clijsters. She faced her sister Venus for the fourth consecutive Grand Slam final and won 7–6(4), 3–6, 6–4 to become the sixth woman in the open era to complete a Career Grand Slam, joining Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, and Margaret Court. She also became the fifth woman to hold all Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously, joining Maureen Connolly Brinker, Court, Graf, and Navratilova. The Williams sisters won their sixth Grand Slam doubles title together at this event.
Williams then captured singles titles at the Open Gaz de France in Paris and the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, defeating Clijsters in the semifinals and Capriati in the final. The following week, Williams lost the final at the clay court Family Circle Cup in Charleston, USA to Henin, her first loss of the year after 21 wins. She also lost to Mauresmo in the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. Despite these losses, Williams was the top seed at the French Open. After defeating fifth seeded Mauresmo in the quarterfinals, Williams lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Henin 6–2, 4–6, 7–5, marking Williams’s first loss in a Grand Slam tournament since 2001. The match was controversial as Williams questioned Henin’s sportsmanship and spectators applauded Williams’s errors.
Williams rebounded from the loss at the 2003 Wimbledon Championships, defeating Henin in the semifinals and Venus in the final 4–6, 6–4, 6–2. This was Williams’s second consecutive Wimbledon title and her sixth Grand Slam singles title overall. This was her last tournament of the year, as knee surgery prevented her from competing in the year’s remaining events, including the US Open. As a result, she lost the World No. 1 ranking to Clijsters in August, having held it for 57 consecutive weeks. Williams finished the year ranked World No. 3 and with four titles. On September 14, 2003, while Williams was still recovering from surgery, her sister Yetunde Price was murdered.
2004–06: Injuries and inconsistent results
Williams withdrew from the Australian Open to continue rehabilitating her left knee. She then withdrew from further tournaments, which generated speculation that she was losing interest in the sport. After eight months away from the tour, Williams began her comeback at the Tier I NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, where she defeated 16 year old Russian Maria Sharapova in the fourth round and World No. 8 Elena Dementieva in the final. This was the third consecutive year that Williams had won this tournament.
She then played three clay court tournaments leading up to the French Open. She lost in the quarterfinals of the Bausch & Lomb Championships in Amelia Island, Florida, and, the following week at the Tier I Family Circle Cup in Charleston, she withdrew before her third round match because of an injured knee. She was away from the tour for four weeks before playing the Tier I Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome, where she lost to World No. 9Jennifer Capriati in the semifinals 6–4, 6–4. Although ranked World No. 7, she was seeded second at the French Open. She won her first four matches over players ranked outside the top 50 before Capriati beat her in the quarterfinals 6–3, 2–6, 6–3. This was the first time she had lost before the semifinals at a Grand Slam singles tournament since Wimbledon in 2001.
She was seeded first at Wimbledon even though her ranking had dropped to World No. 10. She defeated seventh-seeded Capriati in the quarterfinals in straight sets and fourth seeded Amélie Mauresmo in the semifinals 6–7(4), 7–5, 6–4 after being down a break in the second set. In one of the most surprising upsets in the tournament’s history, 13th-seeded Sharapova defeated Williams in the final 6–1, 6–4. This loss caused her ranking to drop out of the top 10 for the first time since early 1999.
Williams reached her third final of the year at the JPMorgan Chase Open in Los Angeles on hard courts. She lost there to Lindsay Davenport 6–1, 6–3, which was her first loss to Davenport since the 2000 US Open. Williams then withdrew before her quarterfinal match at the Acura Classic in San Diego with another left knee injury. This injury caused her to miss both the Tier I Rogers AT&T Cup in Montreal and the Athens Olympics. She returned for the US Open, where she was seeded third even though she was ranked World No. 11. She lost there in the quarterfinals to World No. 8 Capriati 2–6, 6–4, 6–4. This match featured several missed line calls, including one that led to the suspension of the chair umpire for the remainder of the tournament. This match is commonly referred to as the impetus for the current challenge system.
Williams played only three tournaments the remainder of the year. She won her second title of the year at the China Open in Beijing, in which she defeated US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. Five weeks later, she lost in the second round of the tournament in Linz, Austria to World No. 73 Alina Jidkova but still qualified for the WTA Tour Championships. In the round robin phase of the tournament, she defeated World No. 5 Dementieva, lost to World No. 1 Davenport, and defeated World No. 3 Anastasia Myskina. She defeated World No. 2 Mauresmo in the semifinals 4–6, 7–6(2), 6–4 but again lost to World No. 6 Sharapova in the final 4–6, 6–2, 6–4. Williams trailed 5–2 in the second set when she asked for treatment of an abdominal injury that caused her to serve around 65 mph. She led 4–0 in the third set before Sharapova won the last six games of the match. Williams finished 2004 ranked World No. 7 but did not win a Grand Slam singles tournament for the first time since 2001.
At the 2005 Australian Open, Williams rejected suggestions that she and sister Venus were a declining force in tennis following Venus’s early exit at the tournament. In the quarterfinals, Williams defeated second seeded Mauresmo 6–2, 6–2. In the semifinals, she saved three match points in defeating fourth seeded Sharapova 2–6, 7–5, 8–6. In the final, Williams defeated World No. 1 Davenport 2–6, 6–3, 6–0 to win her second Australian Open singles title and seventh Grand Slam singles title. The win moved Williams back to World No. 2, and she stated she was now targeting the number one spot.
She did not, however, reach the final at any of her next five tournaments. She withdrew before her quarterfinal match at the Open Gaz de France in Paris, citing a stomach illness.Three weeks later, she retired from her semifinal match with Jelena Janković at the Dubai Duty Free Women’s Open, citing a strained tendon in her right shoulder. Four weeks later, she lost to sister Venus, for the first time since 2001, in the quarterfinals of the Tier I NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne 6–1, 7–6(8). The following week, a left ankle injury forced her to retire from her quarterfinal match on clay at the Bausch & Lomb Championships in Amelia Island. Five weeks away from the tour did not improve her results as she lost in the second round of the Tier I Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome to Francesca Schiavone 7–6(2), 6–1. The ankle injury also caused her to miss the French Open.
After winning her first match at the Tier I Rogers Cup in Toronto, a recurrence of her left knee injury caused her to withdraw from the tournament. At theUS Open, Williams lost to her sister Venus in the fourth round 7–6(5), 6–2. This was the earliest the sisters had met in a Grand Slam tournament since their first meeting at the 1998 Australian Open. Williams played just one more match the remainder of the year, a loss to World No. 127 Sun Tiantian at the tournament in Beijing. She failed to qualify for the year-ending championship for the first time since 1998. She finished the year ranked World No. 11, her first time finishing outside of the world top 10 since 1998.
Williams did not participate in any of the official warm-up tournaments for the 2006 Australian Open. Williams was the defending champion at theAustralian Open but fell to World No. 17 Daniela Hantuchová in the third round 6–1, 7–6(5). She then withdrew from tournaments in Tokyo (citing her lack of fitness) and Dubai and from the Tier I NASDAQ-100 Open in Key Biscayne (citing a knee injury and lack of fitness). On April 10, her ranking fell out of the top 100 for the first time since November 16, 1997. Shortly after, she announced that she would miss both the French Open and Wimbledonbecause of a chronic knee injury. She said that she would not be able to compete before “the end of the summer”, on doctor’s orders.
Williams returned to the tour in July at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati. Ranked World No. 139 because of her inactivity, she defeated World No. 11 Myskina in the first round 6–2, 6–2 before losing in the semifinals to eventual champion Vera Zvonareva. She also reached the semifinals in Los Angeles, losing to World No. 28 Janković in straight sets.
At the US Open, Williams was unseeded in a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since 1998 and needed a wildcard to enter the tournament because her ranking was too low. She defeated World No. 17 Ana Ivanović in the third round before losing to top seeded Mauresmo in the fourth round 6–4, 0–6, 6–2. She did not play again in 2006, ending the year ranked World No. 95. This was her lowest year-end ranking since 1997. Williams played just four tournaments in 2006.
2007–08: Return to the top 10
Williams lost in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Hobart, Australia, a warm-up for the Australian Open. Williams was unseeded at the Australian Open because of her World No. 81 ranking and was widely regarded as “out of shape”. In the third round, however, Williams defeated fifth-seeded Nadia Petrova, which was her first win over a top 10 player since defeating Lindsay Davenport in the 2005 Australian Open final. In the quarterfinals, Williams was two points from losing to Shahar Pe’er before prevailing. In the final, Williams defeated top-seeded Maria Sharapova 6–1, 6–2 to win her third Australian Open singles title and her eighth Grand Slam singles title. Williams dedicated the title to her deceased sister Yetunde. Her performance in the final was described by TENNIS.com as “one of the best performances of her career” and by BBC Sport as “arguably the most powerful display ever seen in women’s tennis”.
Williams next played at the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida in late March. In the fourth round, Williams again defeated World No. 2 Sharapova 6–1, 6–1 and in the final, Williams defeated World No. 1 Justine Henin 0–6, 7–5, 6–3 after saving a match point in the second set.
At the Tier I Family Circle Cup in Charleston, South Carolina on clay courts, Williams retired from her second round match because of a groin pull. The following week, Williams won her first singles match in the first round Fed Cup tie against Belgium on hard courts but withdrew from the second singles match to rest her knee. Williams played only one clay court tournament in Europe before the French Open. In Rome at the Tier I Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Williams lost to fourteenth-seeded Patty Schnyder of Switzerland in the quarterfinals 6–3, 2–6, 7–6(5). After the tournament, however, she re-entered the top 10 at World No. 9. As the eighth seed at the French Open, Williams lost in the quarterfinals to eventual champion Henin 6–4, 6–3. Williams said her performance was “hideous and horrendous” and worse than ever. She also said that she felt “violated”.
Despite the loss, Williams was one of the favorites for the Wimbledon title. During her fourth round match againstDaniela Hantuchová, Williams collapsed from an acute muscle spasm at 5–5 in the second set. After a medical timeout and holding serve to force a tiebreak, rain forced play to be suspended for nearly two hours. When the players returned, Williams won the match 6–2, 6–7(2), 6–2. Williams then lost her quarterfinal match with World No. 1 Henin 6–4, 3–6, 6–3. Williams started the match with a heavily taped calf and was forced to use a one-handed backhand slice because of a left thumb injury. Williams was criticized for claiming after the match that she would have beaten Henin had Williams been healthy. After Wimbledon, Williams moved up to World No. 7, her highest ranking since 2005.
Because of the thumb injury, Williams did not play a tournament between Wimbledon and the US Open. At the US Open, she beat 2007 Wimbledon runner-up Marion Bartoli in the fourth round but lost her third consecutive Grand Slam singles quarterfinal to Henin, 7–6(3), 6–1.
In October, Williams lost in the quarterfinals of the tournament in Stuttgart to World No. 2 Svetlana Kuznetsova. Williams then reached her third final of the year at the Tier I Kremlin Cup in Moscow, defeating Kuznetsova in the semifinals before losing to Elena Dementieva. Nevertheless, Williams’s performances at these tournaments increased her ranking to World No. 5 and qualified her for the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Madrid. Her participation there was short. Because of injury, she retired from her first match withAnna Chakvetadze after losing the first set and then withdrew from the tournament. Williams finished 2007 as World No. 7 and the top-ranked American for the first time since 2003.
Williams started 2008 by participating on the U.S. team that won the Hopman Cup for the fifth time in Perth, Australia. Williams was the seventh seed at the Australian Open but lost in the quarterfinals to World No. 4 and third-seeded Jelena Janković 6–3, 6–4. This was her fourth straight loss in the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam singles tournament. In the women’s doubles event, Serena and her sister Venus lost in the quarterfinals to the seventh-seeded team, Zheng Jie and Yan Zi.
Williams then withdrew from three tournaments because of an urgent need for dental surgery. Upon her return to the tour, Williams won three consecutive singles titles. At the Tier IItournament in Bangalore, India, Serena defeated sister Venus in the semifinals 6–3, 3–6, 7–6(4) after Serena saved a match point at 6–5 in the third set. This was the first time they had played each other since the fourth round of the 2005 US Open. Serena then defeated Schnyder in the final. At the Tier I Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Williams won her fifth career singles title there, tying Steffi Graf for the most singles titles at this tournament. Williams defeated World No. 1 Henin in the quarterfinals, World No. 3 Kuznetsova in the semifinals, and World No. 4 Janković in the final. This was her 30th career singles title.
At the clay court Tier I Family Circle Cup in Charleston, Williams defeated, for the fourth consecutive time, second-seeded Sharapova in the quarterfinals. In the final, Williams defeated Vera Zvonareva to capture her tenth career Tier I title and first clay court title since the 2002 French Open. Her 17-match winning streak was ended by Dinara Safina in the quarterfinals of the Tier I Qatar Telecom German Open in Berlin 2–6, 6–1, 7–6(5). Williams was the fifth-seeded player at the Tier I Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and made it to the quarterfinals, where Alizé Cornetreceived a walkover over Williams because of a back injury.
Williams was the fifth-seeded player at the French Open. Although she was the only former winner of this tournament in this year’s draw, following the sudden retirement of four-time champion Henin, she lost in the third round to 27th-seededKatarina Srebotnik 6–4, 6–4.
At Wimbledon, the sixth-seeded Williams reached the semifinals for the first time in four years. She defeated former World No. 1 and 2006 Wimbledon champion Amélie Mauresmo in the third round before losing the final to her older sister Venus in straight sets. This was the first Grand Slam final in which the Williams sisters had played each other since 2003. Serena and Venus then teamed to win the women’s doubles title without dropping a set the entire tournament, their first Grand Slam women’s doubles title since 2003.
Williams was seeded first at the tournament in Stanford, California but retired from her semifinal match against qualifier Aleksandra Wozniak while trailing 6–2, 3–1 because of a left knee injury. That injury caused Williams to withdraw from the tournament in Los Angeles the following week.
Playing in the singles draw at the Olympics for the first time in Beijing, Williams was the fourth-seeded player in singles but lost to fifth-seeded and eventual gold-medalist Dementieva in the quarterfinals 3–6, 6–4, 6–3. Serena and her sister Venus won the gold medal in doubles to add to their victory at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, beating the Spanish team of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Virginia Ruano Pascual in the final.
Williams was seeded fourth at the US Open and defeated her seventh-seeded sister Venus in the quarterfinals 7–6(6), 7–6(7). Serena trailed 5–3 in both sets and saved two set points in the first set and eight set points in the second set. Williams then defeated Safina in the semifinals and second-seeded Janković in the final. This was her third US Open and ninth Grand Slam singles title. This victory returned her to the World No. 1 ranking for the first time since 2003.
At the Tier II Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Williams was the top seed but lost to World No. 30 Li Na in the second round 0–6, 6–1, 6–4. Serena also played doubles there with her sister Venus, but they withdrew after winning their first round match because of a left ankle injury to Serena. On October 3, Williams announced her withdrawal from the Tier I Kremlin Cup in Moscow, citing a continuing left ankle injury and a desire to give her body time to recover from a packed playing schedule. Because of her withdrawal, she lost the World No. 1 ranking to Janković.
Williams defeated Safina in her first round robin match at the year-ending Sony Ericsson Championships in Doha before losing to her sister Venus 5–7, 6–1, 6–0 in her second round robin match. She then withdrew from her match against Dementieva citing a stomach muscle injury. She ended the year ranked World No. 2 and with four singles titles, her strongest performance in both respects since 2003.
2009: Back at World No. 1
At the Medibank International in Sydney, top-seeded Williams defeated Australian Samantha Stosur in the first round 6–3, 6–7(4), 7–5 after saving four match points when Stosur served for the match at 5–4 in the third set. In the quarterfinals against Danish player Caroline Wozniacki, Williams won 6–7(5), 6–3, 7–6(3) after saving three match points when Wozniacki served for the match at 6–5 in the third set. In the semifinals, Williams lost to Russian Elena Dementieva for the third consecutive time 6–3, 6–1.
Williams was seeded second at the Australian Open. She twice was three points from defeat before beating eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals and then defeated fourth-seeded Dementieva in the semifinals. She claimed her tenth Grand Slam singles title by defeating Dinara Safinain the final 6–0, 6–3 in 59 minutes. This win returned her to the World No. 1 ranking and resulted in her becoming the all-time career prize money leader in women’s sports, overtaking golfer Annika Sörenstam. In women’s doubles, Serena and her sister Venus captured the title for the third time.
At the Open GDF SUEZ in Paris, Williams withdrew from the tournament before her scheduled semifinal with Dementieva because of a knee injury. Williams was the top seed at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships, a Premier 5 event on the tour. She defeated former World No. 1 Ana Ivanović in the quarterfinals before losing to her sister Venus in the semifinals 6–1, 2–6, 7–6(3).
At the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, a Premier Mandatory event, Williams beat the top three Chinese players (World No. 34 Shuai Peng, World No. 17 Jie Zheng, and World No. 40 Li Na) on the way to the semifinals. She then defeated her sister Venus 6–4, 3–6, 6–3. Williams, who played with a left thigh injury, was then upset in the final by 11th seeded Victoria Azarenka.
This was the first of four consecutive losses for Williams, the longest losing streak of her career. She was defeated in her opening match at her first three clay court events of the year, including the Premier 5 Internazionali d’Italia in Rome and the Premier Mandatory Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open. She lost the World No. 1 ranking to Safina on April 20. Despite not having won a match on clay in 2009 before the French Open, she reached the quarterfinals there before losing to the eventual champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 7–6 (4), 5–7, 7–5. This ended her 18-match Grand Slam tournament winning streak.
She rebounded at Wimbledon, saving a match point in defeating fourth seeded Dementieva in the semifinals 6–7(4), 7–5, 8–6. In the final, Serena defeated her sister Venus 7–6(3), 6–2 to win her third Wimbledon title and her 11th Grand Slam singles title. Although Williams was now holding three of the four Grand Slam singles titles, she continued to trail Safina in the WTA rankings, a fact Williams publicly mocked. Williams and her sister Venus teamed to win the women’s doubles title at Wimbledon for the second consecutive year, their ninth Grand Slam title in women’s doubles.
Following Wimbledon, Williams played two Premier 5 tournaments before the US Open. She lost in the third round of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open in Cincinnati and in the semifinals, to World No. 5 Dementieva, of the Rogers Cup in Toronto.
She was seeded second at the US Open, where she lost in the semifinals to eventual champion Kim Clijsters in extremely controversial circumstances. While trailing 6–4, 6–5(15–30), Williams’s second serve was called a foot fault, resulting in two match points for Clijsters. Williams gestured with her racquet to the lineswoman who had made the call and yelled at her, yelling profanaties and threatening to kill her. During the subsequent on-court conference between the head judge, the lineswoman, US Open officials, and Williams, a microphone picked up Williams saying to the lineswoman (which could be heard on the TV broadcast), “I didn’t say I would kill you. Are you serious?” This resulted in Williams being penalized a point for unsportsmanlike conduct – necessitated by a warning she had received earlier in the match for racket abuse – meaning Clijsters won the match 6–4, 7–5. The following day, Williams was issued the maximum permissible on-site fine of $10,000 (plus $500 for racket abuse). After further investigation, the Grand Slam Committee in November 2009 fined her $175,000 in lieu of suspending her from the 2010 US Open or other Grand Slam events. They also placed her on a two year probation, so if Williams commits another offense in the next two years at a Grand Slam tournament, she will be suspended from participating in the following US Open. If she commits no offenses in the next two years, her fine will be reduced to $82,500. Williams initially refused to apologize for her outburst, both in her post-match press conference and in an official statement released the following day. She eventually apologized to the lineswoman in a statement two days following the incident. Williams was not suspended from the doubles competition at the tournament and teamed with Venus to win their third Grand Slam doubles title of the year and tenth of their career.
Williams played only two tournaments after the US Open. At the Premier Mandatory China Open in Beijing, she was upset in the third round by Nadia Petrova. Williams won all three of her round-robin matches at the year-ending WTA Tour Championships in Doha, Qatar, defeating World No. 7 Venus Williams, World No. 5 Dementieva, and World No. 3 Kuznetsova. She saved a match point against Venus before winning in a third set tiebreak. She then advanced to the final when US Open runner-up Wozniacki retired from their semifinal match while trailing 6–4, 0–1. In the final, Williams played Venus for the second time in four days, winning once again 6–2, 7–6(4), against her tired and error stricken sister. This was Serena’s second singles title at this event.
Williams finished the year ranked World No. 1 for the second time in her career, having played in 16 tournaments, more than any other year. She also broke the record previously set byJustine Henin for the most prize money earned by a female tennis player in one year, with Williams earning $6,545,586. In doubles, the Williams sisters finished the year ranked World No. 2 despite playing only six tournaments as a pair. She won five Grand Slam titles, putting her total Grand Slam titles at 23.
Williams was named Female Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press in a landslide vote (66 of 158 votes – no other candidate received more than 18 votes). She also was theInternational Tennis Federation World Champion in singles and doubles.
2010: Two Grand Slam singles titles in an abbreviated year
Williams’s first scheduled tournament was the Medibank International Sydney. She defeated Frenchwoman Aravane Rezaï in the semifinals 3–6, 7–5, 6–4 after trailing 5–2 in the second set and being two points from defeat. She then lost the final to World No. 5 and defending champion Elena Dementieva 6–3, 6–2.
At the Australian Open, Williams was the defending champion in both singles and doubles (with sister Venus). She reached the singles quarterfinals without losing a service game or a set, where she eliminated Victoria Azarenka 4–6, 7–6(4), 6–2 after trailing 4–0 in the second set. In the semifinals, Williams defeated 16th seeded Li Na 7–6(4), 7–6(1) on her fifth match point to reach her fifth final in Melbourne and her fifteenth Grand Slam singles final. She then defeated 2004 champion Justine Henin 6–4, 3–6, 6–2 for her twelfth Grand Slam singles title. This was the first time that Henin and Williams had played each other in a Grand Slam tournament final. Williams is the first female player to win consecutive Australian Open singles titles since Jennifer Capriati in 2001–02. In doubles, Serena and Venus successfully defended their title by defeating the top ranked team of Cara Black and Liezel Huber in the final 6–4, 6–3.
She returned to the WTA tour at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome where she lost to Jelena Janković in the semifinals 4–6, 6–3, 7–6(5) after failing to convert a match point while serving at 5–4 in the third set, and then surrendering a 5–2 lead in the deciding tiebreaker.
At the Mutua Madrileña Madrid Open, she received a first round bye. In her first match, she made 73 unforced errors in defeating Vera Dushevina in the longest match of her career, 3 hours, 26 minutes, 6–7(2), 7–6(5), 7–6(5). Williams saved a match point at 6–5 in the second set, then injured her upper leg early in the third set. She then fell to 16th seeded Nadia Petrova 4–6, 6–2, 6–3. Williams won only two of her eighteen opportunities to break Petrova’s serve. She teamed with Venus to win the doubles title.
At the French Open, she defeated Shahar Pe’er in the fourth round before losing to Samantha Stosur in the quarterfinals 6–3, 6–7(2), 8–6. Williams made 46 unforced errors and squandered a match point at 5–4 in the final set. It was the first Grand Slam tournament that Williams had not won or been defeated by the eventual champion since the 2008 French Open. Williams has not advanced past the quarterfinals at this event since 2003. She also played doubles with Venus as the top seeds. Their defeat of Huber and Anabel Medina Garrigues in the semifinals improved their doubles ranking to World No. 1. They then defeated 12th seeds Květa Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik in the final 6–2, 6–3 to win their fourth consecutive Grand Slam women’s doubles title.
Her next tournament was Wimbledon, where she defeated Maria Sharapova in the fourth round 7–6(9), 6–4. She then defeated Li Na in the quarterfinals and Petra Kvitová in the semifinals, both in straight sets. In the final, Williams defeated Russian Vera Zvonareva 6–3, 6–2 without facing a break point and breaking the serve of Zvonareva three-times.She did not lose a set in the tournament. After the match, Martina Navratilova said that Williams is in the “top five” of all the women’s tennis players in all of history, which she said that “it’s not just about how many Slams you win or how many tournaments you win—it’s just your game overall. And she’s definitely got all the goods.” Serena was the defending champion in doubles with her sister Venus, winning the last two years. They lost in the quarterfinals to Elena Vesnina and Zvonareva 3–6, 6–3, 6–4.
In Munich on July 7, Williams stepped on broken glass while in a restaurant. She received 18 stitches, but the following day she lost an exhibition match to Kim Clijsters 6–3, 6–2 in Brussels before a world-record crowd for a tennis match, 35,681 at the King Baudouin Stadium. The cut foot turned out to be a serious injury, requiring surgery and preventing her from playing for the remainder of 2010. As a result, she lost the World No. 1 ranking to Dane Caroline Wozniacki on October 11, 2010, and ended the year ranked fourth in singles despite having played only six tournaments, and eleventh in doubles after four tournaments.
Because of her continuing rehabilitation for her foot injury, Serena withdrew from the 2011 Hopman Cup and the 2011 Australian Open. As a result, she dropped to world no.12 in the WTA rankings, her lowest ranking since March 2007. Serena will return playing and exhibition match on March 8th, and it is then hoped she will play in Miami.
Rivalry with Venus Williams
Williams has played her sister Venus 12 times in Grand Slam singles tournaments and 11 times in other tournaments (including 11 finals). She has a three match lead in the head-to-head series, 13–10 (including the last 4 in a row). They are the only women during the open era to have played each other in four consecutive Grand Slam singles finals. Currently Venus has 43 career tennis titles, while Serena has 37.
In her 2004 U.S. Open quarterfinal match against Jennifer Capriati, several calls were made in Capriati’s favor, even though later video review showed the calls to be clearly in error. Williams attempted at times to argue some calls, but was not successful. Capriati would win the match, but tournament officials would dismiss the match’s umpire from the tournament. The controversy contributed to the adoption of MacCam and Hawk-Eye systems.
In 2009 Williams again was involved in a controversial U.S. Open match, this time against Kim Clijsters in the semifinal round. The drama began at the end of the first set, when Williams slammed her racket on the court in frustration over losing the set. She was given a warning, with a potential second violation carrying a one point penalty. As the match progressed, Williams found herself serving to stay in the match, with the score 5–6 in Clijsters favor. With the game score 15–30 Williams faulted on her first serve, and then was called for a foot fault on her second serve. The subsequent double fault gave Clijsters two match points. Such calls are uncommon, especially at such pivotal moments in a match, and Williams reacted with an outburst of anger directed at the line judge. Williams waved her racket and pointed her finger at the judge while yelling and cursing at the woman, and allegedly threatened to kill her. The outburst constituted a second violation and, as per the first warning, incurred a point being rewarded to her opponent. Since Clijsters had match point, Williams lost the match. Williams was later fined an initial $10,500 which was later increased to $82,500, and was given a probationary period by the U.S. Open. Terms of her probation demand that she avoid any “major offense” in her next eight major events, with the penalty of being barred from the following U.S. Open, and the fine being increased to $175,000.
Williams was once known for her unusual and colorful outfits on court. In 2002, there was much talk when she wore a black lycra catsuit at the US Open. At the 2004 US Open, Williams wore denim skirts and knee-high boots—tournament officials, however, did not allow her to wear the boots during matches. At Wimbledon in 2008, the white trench coat she wore during warm-up for her opening match was the subject of much discussion since it was worn despite the sunny weather. Off-court, Williams has also presented new designs. In November 2004, at the London premiere of After the Sunset she wore a red gown that had a near-topless effect.
Williams formerly had a special line with Puma and currently has a line with Nike. The deal with Nike is worth US$40 million and was signed in April 2004. Since 2004, she has also been running her own line of designer apparel called “Aneres”—her first name spelled backward. In 2009 she launched a signature collection of handbags and jewelry. The collection, called Signature Statement, is sold mainly on the Home Shopping Network (HSN).
In early 2010, Williams became a certified nail technician in preparation for her upcoming nail collection with a company called HairTech.
Williams has appeared on television and also provided voice work on animated shows: in a 2001 episode of The Simpsons Serena joined the animation along with sister Venus, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi. She has also provided guest voice work in a 2005 episode of Playhouse Disney’s animated kids show Higglytown Heroes and a 2007 episode of theNickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender, which she has described as her “favorite show”.
Williams has posed for the 2003 and 2004 editions of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue. In April 2005, MTV announced plans to broadcast a reality show around the lives of Serena and Venus, which was eventually aired on ABC Family. Williams has appeared twice on MTV’s Punk’d and in 2007, appeared in the ABC reality television series Fast Cars and Superstars: The Gillette Young Guns Celebrity Race. In 2002, she played Miss Wiggins in the season 3 episode “Crouching Mother, Hidden Father” of My Wife and Kids; she has also guest-starred during episodes of ER and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. In 2007 Williams appeared in the music video of “I Want You” by the American rapper Common, alongside performers Alicia Keys and Kanye West.
In late 2009, Williams became the first active female professional athlete to appear in a feminine hygiene product advertising campaign. A series of online videos and print advertisements for Tampax Pearl tampons showed her hitting balls at Mother Nature, played by Catherine Lloyd Burns, to prevent Mother Nature giving her a red-wrapped gift, representing her menstrual period. In the online videos, the two have dueling press conferences over the “bad blood” between them. “A lot of celebrities are not open to working with our brand, and we’re thrilled that Serena is”, said a brand manager for Tampax at Procter & Gamble.
Serena and sister Venus were mentioned in a couple of songs namely in Super Furry Animals studio album Phantom Power in a track entitle “Venus and Serena”, in a single by Snoop Dogg Signs and Ludacris‘ single My Chick Bad.
Miami Dolphins venture
In August 2009, Serena and Venus Williams became part-owners of the Miami Dolphins. The formal announcement was made during a press conference overlooking the practice field. The Williams are the first African-American females to obtain ownership in an NFL franchise. Other prominent owners include: Jimmy Buffett, Gloria and Emilio Estefan (the first Cuban-American owners), and Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez . Stephan Ross, the majority owner of the Dolphins, said “We are thrilled to have Venus and Serena join the Dolphins as limited partners. They are among the most admired athletes in the world and have become global ambassadors for the game of tennis. Their addition to our ownership group further reflects our commitment to connect with aggressively and embrace the great diversity that makes South Florida a multicultural gem.”
In 2008 Williams helped to fund the construction of the Serena Williams Secondary School in Matooni, Kenya. She received a Celebrity Role Model Award from Avon Foundation in 2003 for work in breast cancer. Williams has also been involved in a number of clinics at schools and community centers, particularly those which have programs focusing on at-risk youth. She has also won the “Young Heroes Award” from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater L.A. and Inland (2003) and the “Family Circle and Prudential Financial Player Who Makes a Difference Award” (2004). In response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Williams, along with other ATP and WTA stars decided to forgo their final day of preparation for the 2010 Australian Open to form a charity event in which all proceeds will go to the Haiti earthquake victims.
Serena has published along with her sister Venus Williams and renowned author Hilary Beard a book titled Venus & Serena: Serving From The Hip: 10 Rules For Living, Loving and Winning by Boston: Houghton Mifflin in 2005.  During the 2009 Wimbledon Championships, Williams said that she is in the process of writing a TV show storyline, which will be converted into script form by her agency. She stated that the show will represent subject matter from a mix of popular American television shows such as Desperate Housewives, Sex and the City, and Family Guy. Serena released her first solo published work, an autobiography entitled On the Line, following the 2009 US Open.
Other records and achievements
|Tournament Name||Years||Record accomplished||Player tied|
|Hopman Cup||2003–2008||Two Hopman Cup Titles won||Dominik Hrbatý
Arantxa Sánchez Vicario
|Australian Open||2003–2010||5 singles titles during the open era||Stands alone|
|Australian Open||2007||Unseeded winner of singles title||Chris O’Neil (1978)|
|1999 French Open – 2010 French Open||1999–2010||Highest streak of consecutive initial Grand Slamfinals won (doubles) (12)||Venus Williams|
|Grand Slam tournaments||2002||Won two Grand Slam singles tournaments in the same calendar year in straight sets||Billie Jean King
|Grand Slam tournaments||2000–present||Won 4 Grand Slam singles tournaments in straight sets||Evonne Goolagong|
|Sony Ericsson Open (Key Biscayne)||2002–2008||5 singles titles overall||Steffi Graf|
|2009 WTA Tour||2009||Highest single year earnings at $6,545,586 (2009)||Stands alone|
|1995–present||Highest prize money career earnings by a female athlete at US$31,151,042||Stands alone|
|2010 Wimbledon||2010||Most aces served by a female at a Grand Slam (89)||Stands alone|
- At the 1998 Lipton International Players Championships in Key Biscayne, she recorded her fifth singles victory over a player ranked in the top 10, which was the fastest (16 matches) that any woman in professional tennis history had done this.
- At the 2002 French Open, she became the first younger sister to defeat her older sister in a Grand Slam tournament.
- On June 10, 2002, she and her sister Venus became the first siblings ever to hold the top two women’s singles rankings simultaneously.
- By winning the 2003 Australian Open, she became the first African-American woman to win the singles title at this tournament.
- On September 8, 2008, she regained the World No. 1 ranking for the first time in 5 years, 1 month. That gap is the biggest in professional tennis history.
- She was named one of the Top 10 Most Superstitious Athletes by Men’s Fitness.