Biography

Serena Williams

American Tennis Player
Serena Williams
Serena Williams (Photo: China Images / Imagine China Limited / depositphotos.com)

Serena Williams is an American tennis player. Widely considered to be one of the best women’s tennis players in history, Williams has won a total of 23 grand slam singles titles.

Serena Williams

• Date of Birth: 26 September 1981
• Age: 40 years old
• Place of Birth: Saginaw, Michigan, USA
• Nationality: American
• Height: 175cm / 5ft 9ins
• Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23
• Husband: Alexis Ohanian (Married in 2017)
• Career Prize Money: $94,588,910
• Net Worth: $260m / £214m (Forbes, 2022)

• Instagram: @serenawilliams
• Twitter: @serenawilliams

The 40-year-old held the women’s number one singles ranking for a total of 319 weeks and finished the year with the top ranking five times in her career.

She won her first grand slam singles title in 1999 at the US Open after having enjoyed a rapid rise up the world rankings.

Williams went on to establish herself as one of the most successful players of her time, collecting a total of 23 grand slam singles titles and also winning Olympic gold at London 2012.

Serena’s success on the court has brought her a net worth of around $260m (£214m), according to Forbes, after having earned more than $94m in total career prize money from tennis.

So, what do we know about Serena’s journey to becoming the tennis legend she’s considered to be today? This is her story.

Early Life, Parents And Upbringing

Serena Williams (full name: Serena Jameka Williams) was born on 26 September 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan to parents Oracene Price and Richard Williams. She is the youngest of Price’s five daughters: half-sisters Yetunde, Lyndrea, and Isha Price, and full older sister Venus.

Williams’ family moved to Compton, California, when she was young and she began playing tennis at around four years old. She was home-schooled by her father Richard along with her sister Venus.

When she was nine years old, Serena and her family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, so she could attend the Rick Macci’s tennis academy.

“It was obvious they had the goods to transcend the sport,” Macci said of the Williams sisters during a 2007 interview. “Venus was so tall, could run like the wind, and had incredible power. The world of tennis had never seen anything like her. Serena had a fighting spirit that was off the charts. I was quoted at the time saying they’d be number one and number two in the world, and that was a mouthful.”

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

In 1995, Richard Williams made the decision to pull his daughters out of Macci’s academy and took over the role of coaching them full time.

Early Career

Serena made her professional debut in October 1995 at the Bell Challenge in Quebec after being handed a wildcard. She lost in the first round of qualifying to American teenager Annie Miller.

She won her first main-draw match at the Ameritech Cup Chicago in 1997. She beat world number seven Mary Pierce, and world number four Monica Seles to make it to the semi-finals, where she lost to Lindsay Davenport.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Speaking about beating Monica Seles as a 16-year-old in 1997, Williams said: “I was incredibly young. I always really loved Monica. I wanted to play like her because she was my favorite player. Growing up, I wanted to be just like her, hit like her and play like her. Having the opportunity to play her, it was like, ‘OK, cool. I got this.”

Williams made her grand slam main-draw debut at the 1998 Australian Open. She beat sixth-seeded Irina Spirlea in the first round before losing to her sister, Venus, in round two.

Williams continued to make impressive progress and captured her first WTA Tour singles title in 1999, beating home favourite Amelie Mauresmo in the final of the Open Gaz de France in Paris. Her impressive run over the next few weeks propelled her up into the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time in her career.

First Grand Slam Title

After having reached the third rounds of both the Australian Open and French Opens in 1999, Williams captured her first grand slam singles title at the US Open in the same year.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (Photo: Marianne Bevis)

Aged 17 years old, she beat the likes of Kim Clijsters, Conchita Martinez, Monica Seles and Lindsay Davenport to reach the final in New York, where she defeated world number one Martina Hingis to claim her first major crown.

Her triumph at the 1999 US Open made her the second African-American woman, after Althea Gibson in 1958, to win a grand slam singles tournament.

“I always said I was going to win a grand slam, and next thing I know, I’d won, beating the number player in the world. Hingis was really dominating everyone at that time, so I was glad to get that one!” Williams said in an interview in November 2018.

Serena’s next grand slam title came in 2002 at the French Open, where she beat her sister Venus in the final to claim the crown. She then followed that up by winning Wimbledon for the first time in her career, beating her sister Venus in the final.

“At the beginning of the year, I told myself I don’t care what else happens this year, I want to win Wimbledon,” said Serena, aged 20 at the time, after winning Wimbledon. “I really wanted to win the French but that was an extra bonus. I just wanted to win Wimbledon. I wanted to become a member of so much prestige. I wanted to be a part of history.”

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky / depositphotos.com)

Williams went on to win the next two grand slam titles on offer – the 2002 US Open and the 2003 Australian Open, making her the fifth woman in history to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time, with her feat dubbed the ‘Serena Slam’.

More Success

Williams continued to dominate women’s tennis and collected 23 grand slam titles in total, including seven Wimbledon and seven Australian Open titles, as well as six US Open triumphs.

Serena also tasted victory at the London 2012 Olympics, beating Maria Sharapova in the final to claim the singles gold medal, while also winning gold in the doubles with her sister Serena.

After beating Sharapova 6-0 6-1 in 63 minutes in the singles final at London 2012, Williams said: “I didn’t think I would be this happy. Oh my gosh, I got the gold. I’ve never played better. Playing against someone like Maria you have to be at your best. I knew that, so it was like I had nothing to lose.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky / depositphotos.com)

“I never expected gold in singles. I was so happy with my doubles golds [in Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008]. I thought, ‘If my career’s over I have my gold medal and now I have everything.’ I have singles, doubles, actually everything there is to win in tennis. Where do I go from here?”

Williams’ most recent grand slam triumph came at the 2017 Australian Open, where she beat her sister Venus in straight sets to claim an Open-era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title. The triumph put her past Steffi Graf in the all-time list of major winners since the Grand Slams accepted professional players in 1968.

“There’s no way I would be at 23 without her,” Williams said of her sister Venus after the victory. “There’s no way I’d be at [number] one without her. She’s my inspiration. She’s the only reason I’m standing here today. She’s the only reason the Williams sisters exist. Thank you for inspiring me. Every time you won this week, I felt like I got a win too.”

Net Worth And Earnings

As is the case with most sports stars and celebrities, there is no official number available for Serena Williams’ net worth. However, with that being said, a number of publications have attempted to estimate the figure.

In June 2022, Forbes estimated that Serena Williams had a net worth in the region of $260m (£214m).

According to Forbes, Williams also has investments in more than 60 startups through her firm Serena Ventures, and she has more than a dozen corporate partners.

As of August 2022, Williams has earned a total of $94,588,910 in career prize money from tennis, placing her at number one in the list of the top-earning women in the sport.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams (Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky / depositphotos.com)

Life Away From The Court

Serena Williams’ husband is Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. He proposed to her on 10 December 2016 in Rome and the couple got married on 16 November 2017.

The couple welcomed their first daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr, in September 2017.

Serena Williams husband

Serena Williams with her husband Alexis Ohanian (Photo: @serenawilliams / Instagram)

Away from tennis, Serena has always been interested in fashion. She has a custom-designed Nike apparel line, her own clothing line and her successful HSN collection of handbags and jewelry.

Her favorite author is Maya Angelou and she enjoys listening to Mariah Carey and Brandy. She also enjoys acting, watching movies and football, reading, talking on the phone and spending time with family and friends Her favorite place to visit is Paris.

What Have Others Said?

Maria Sharapova, speaking after losing to Serena in the singles final at the London 2012 Olympics: “Serena played some incredible tennis, with the form she was in during Wimbledon and afterwards. With every match she has played she has played great, she has improved and become better, and that showed today.”

Serena’s sister Venus, speaking after losing the 2017 Australian Open final to her sibling: “Congratulations Serena on [grand slam] number 23. I have been right there with you, some of them I lost right there against you. It’s been an awesome win. I’m enormously proud of you, you mean the world to me. I, God willing, would love to come back. Thank you for all the love.”

Lindsay Davenport, speaking about the Williams sisters in 2022: “It’s so crazy. If you look back at the era when Venus and Serena first started playing mid-90s really, they were really young. They really started to hit their stride 98, 99, and then it took off from there but if you ever go back and look at like the top 10 rankings like from some of those years, it was like, it was a crazy era like there were so many great players and obviously, Venus and Serena changed that entire generation because of what they brought to the court.”

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