Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSerena Williams has dominated on the court for over two decades. Photos show the poise, passion, power, and pride that’s made her the face of tennis.
- Serena Williams is one of the most elite athletes on the planet.
- The 38-year-old star has dominated tennis for more than two decades, and she’s just one Grand Slam shy of tying Margaret Smith Court’s record for most Grand Slam victories – male or female – in the history of the sport.
- Photos from throughout Williams’ illustrious career put her poise, passion, power, and pride on full display.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Serena Williams is one of the most elite athletes on the planet.
The 38-year-old tennis star has won 23 Grand Slams in her illustrious career.
And she’s done it in absolutely dominant fashion for more than two decades.
She made her professional debut at 14 years old despite her parents’ hopes that she’d wait another two years.
She didn’t compete in any tournaments the following year but burst onto the scene at the Ameritech Cup in 1997.
At the Chicago-based tournament, a then-16-year-old Williams — who was ranked 304th in the world at the time — upset the No. 7 and fourth-ranked players before losing to the fifth-ranked player in the semifinals.
The New York Times
She played in her first Grand Slam — the Australian Open — the following year, defeating yet another top-10 opponent before falling to her sister, Venus, in their first of many meetings.
The New York Times
She and Venus won their first doubles tournament together in Oklahoma City later that year, marking Serena’s first professional victory.
The sisters have been doubles partners throughout their illustrious careers and went on to win another 21 doubles titles together.
But Serena is best known for her singles career, which began to take its familiar, dominant shape right around the turn of the century.
Williams won her first professional tournament on her own back in 1999 at the Open Gaz de France in Paris.
She entered the top-10 of the WTA rankings in 1999 and — for the vast majority of the following 20 years — she lingered there.
Shortly thereafter, Williams broke through under the bright lights of the 1999 US Open, becoming the first African American woman to win a Grand Slam in more than 40 years.
The floodgates would really open two years later when Williams completed her first “Serena Slam” — holding all four Grand Slam titles at one time.
She won her first French Open, first Wimbledon, second US Open, first Australian Open, and second Wimbledon in succession between 2002 and 2003.
And in all five victories, she faced Venus in the final.
Serena would go on to win the US Open four more times.
And she’s competed in the finals in Flushing Meadows an additional four times.
Of the four Grand Slam tournaments, she’s had the hardest time competing on clay at Roland Garros.
In addition to winning the French Open in 2002, Williams made three additional finals appearances there.
She took down Maria Sharapova in 2013 and Lucie Šafářová in 2015.
Still, she’s had much more success some 190 miles northwest in Wimbledon.
And she’s enjoyed some of her greatest career moments on the famed grass across the pond.
Williams has won seven of her 11 appearances at The Championships — the oldest and most esteemed of the Grand Slam tournaments.
Likewise, she’s won seven singles tournaments at the Australian Open.
And she’s made it look easy down under.
She’s only lost a single finals appearance in Melbourne.
This prolonged dominance allowed her to achieve a second “Serena Slam” from 2014 to 2015.
And Williams nearly completed her first-ever calendar-year Grand Slam in 2015, but a semifinal loss to Roberta Vinci kept the then-33-year-old out of the elusive club of Grand Slammers.
But along with her remarkable successes have come a fair share of controversies.
The racket which Serena Williams smashed during her 2018 US Open final defeat to Naomi Osaka just sold at auction for $US20,910
Williams berated Carlos Ramos at the 2018 US Open after the chair umpire made some controversial — and arguably sexist — calls against her in her finals match against Naomi Osaka.
Serena Williams said ‘I don’t know who that is’ when asked about the 2018 US Open umpire who caused her infamous meltdown
And even though her loss was controversial, Williams was gracious towards Osaka after the then-budding star earned her first Grand Slam victory.
Still, Williams had a history of controversy at the US Open, including at least two instances in which she was accused of verbally abusing officials at the event.
Even her attire sometimes attracts negative attention; the catsuit she wore during the 2018 French Open was famously banned post-competition.
The French Open banning Serena Williams’ catsuit is like when women were vilified for wearing shorts
Unfortunately, Williams has also faced racism throughout her career in tennis — a sport historically dominated by white athletes.
But through controversy…
… and even pregnancy…
… Williams has remained the face of women’s tennis for more than two decades.
Through all the tumult, Williams has held the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings for a whopping 319 weeks of her career, good for third all-time.
And she’s just one Grand Slam victory shy of tying Margaret Smith Court’s record for most singles Grand Slam victories — male or female — the history of the sport.
Though she hasn’t yet managed to secure that elusive first Grand Slam win since returning to the court from maternity leave, Williams has remained quite competitive in recent years.
After she famously won the 2017 Australian Open while nine weeks pregnant, Williams took a little more than a year off before returning to the clay at Roland Garros.
She’s since made back-to-back finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.
But she’s lost in straight sets each time.
Angelique Kerber got revenge for her 2016 Wimbledon loss at the same event two years later, while Simona Halep stunned Williams in 2019 despite entering the tournament as a seven-seed.
At the US Open, upstarts Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu both upset the tennis legend in consecutive finals.
Still, since 2018, Williams has consistently risen up the WTA rankings from 491 — her lowest ranking in more than a decade.
By the end of that year, she had once again broken into the top-20.
She dipped in and out of the top-10 in 2019, but never found herself outside of the top 20.
Williams has been ranked in the top 10 throughout 2020.
Now, Williams is gearing up to compete in the 2020 US Open in pursuit of her 24th Grand Slam singles title.
Now check out how Williams and her husband, tech guru Alexis Ohanian make and spend their millions:
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