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Ilona Hobzová
August 29, 2022, 6:00am
Reading time: 8:20

Serena Williams Is Retiring, She Has Left An Indelible Mark On Tennis. Recall The Best Moments Of Her Career.

We bring you the profile of the legendary American tennis player.

Ilona Hobzová
August 29, 2022, 6:00am
Reading time: 8:20
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Serena Wiliams recently announced that her tennis career is coming to an end. It has been full of victories and shining moments, but also downfalls and controversial moments. Join us as we remind you how the now legendary athlete got her start in tennis and what her journey to the top was like.

She experienced her father's hard training as a child

Serena Jameka Williams was born into a very large family, thanks to both parents, on 26 September 1981 in Saginaw, Michigan, USA. Serena's father Richard Williams met Serena's mother at a time when he was already divorced and had five children. He married Oracene Price, the mother of three, in 1980. That same year they had a daughter together, Venus, and a year later Serena was born.


Source: Getty Images


The sisters started playing tennis together as children. Serena was not even four years old when the family moved to Compton, near Los Angeles. Both parents took on the role of tennis coach for Venus and Serena. The girls were also home-schooled. Richard Williams used what he read in books or watched on videotapes for tennis training. Serena, as a child, was able to handle demanding, two-hour practices.


Richard Williams didn't choose Compton by accident. The city was known for its high crime rate and street gang presence. He wanted to show his daughters how bad life could get if you didn't work hard and educate yourself. The courts there were full of potholes, and the missing net was no exception. This too was to make Serena and Venus play hard.


If you're curious about Serena and Venus Williams' childhood, we've got the scoop on the 2021 biopic King Richard: The Birth of a Champion. The sports drama shows how the legendary sisters' tennis journey unfolded under the guidance of their father. The film largely stuck to the realities. Richard Williams was portrayed by Will Smith, who also won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.


When Serena was nine, there was another move. This time to Los Angeles, where she began attending Rick Macci's tennis academy. The former tennis player and coach was asked to train by their father, Richard Williams. And Macci knew from the first moment that he had extremely talented girls in front of him. He said he was shocked at the very first training session at how much work and effort the sisters were able to put in.


As a result, Richard Williams gave up some of his coaching duties for a time, but soon returned to them. He limited his daughters' participation in some tournaments around the United States. This was because, among other things, the then rising tennis star, a young Jennifer Capriati, was arrested in a hotel room for possession of marijuana. She was also coached by Macci.


Williams feared the girls might go in the wrong direction in such an environment. The sisters also often faced racial slurs at tournaments. These experiences prompted Williams to withdraw his daughters from the grueling and sometimes harmful circuit. He began training them again on his own and waited until they were ready to make their professional debuts.

Fast journey to the tennis top

Although the brighter tennis future was more likely to be the older Venus and for several years both dominated the tennis world, Serena finally surpassed her sister in terms of statistics and victories.


Serena entered the world of professional tennis in 1995. It didn't take long before she was competing with the world's best tennis players at the time. In 1997, as the 304th ranked player, she defeated both world number seven Mary Pierce and number four Monica Seles. She won her first Grand Slam title two years later.



The year 1999 was really a turning point for Serena. At her home US Open, the older Venus had to endure a semi-final defeat by world number one Martina Hingis. But the Swiss star was then stopped by the younger of the sisters and showed her rivals that a big star was born, who would one day not be easy to beat.


I'd like to make my mark in tennis. I probably won't achieve what Martina Navratilova did, I probably won't play that long. But who knows? I could still make a mark.

The rise from her sister's shadow

Another important milestone for Serena Williams was 2002. Although she did not play in the first Grand Slam tournament of the season in Australia due to injury, she dominated the following French Open. She reached the final with a loss of only two sets, defeating her great rival, sister Venus. With the win, she was already second in the WTA rankings behind her.


Source: Wiki Commons / free for use


Another defeat of the older sister followed in the Wimbledon final. Thanks to her triumph over Venus, Serena jumped to the position of the best player on the planet, where she remained for the next fifty-seven weeks. In that year Serena won three Grand Slams out of four, the last time the aforementioned Martina Hingis had done so in 1997.


The last title missing from her collection was the Australian Open. Although she didn't win them all in one season, she joined the club of tennis legends alongside Steffi Graf, Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert.

Back in the spotlight

The period between 2004 and 2006 was not one of its most successful. She withdrew from tournaments, often due to injury or lack of form. Gradually, she fell down the rankings. In April 2006, she dropped out of the top 100. She entered some tournaments, but did not show any shining performances. She finished 2006 ranked 95th, her lowest ranking since 1997.


She struggled with depression and described this period as the worst of her life. But she managed to wipe out all those who talked about the end of the Serena era. She went into the Australian Open as the 84th player. She fought her way to the final, where she beat Russia's Maria Sharapova.



Gradually, she also returned to the throne for the best player. It was in 2009 when she triumphed at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.


Her comeback was hampered by health problems. In 2011, she suffered a pulmonary embolism due to a blood clot. But she rose to the top again, in 2013, when she won her third World No. 1 ranking and became the oldest leader in women's tennis history. In 2015, she managed to dominate all four Grand Slams for the second time (though not in the same season).


To list all of Serena Williams' tennis achievements would almost make a novel. Her greatest achievements are presented in a table:


Success: Number of titles/wins/weeks as the world's no.1 : Placement in the world ranks (open era):
Number of titles at the WTA 73 3.
Overalll number of grandslam titles 23 2.
Wins at Australian Open 7 (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017) 1.
Wins at French Open  3 (2002, 2013, 2015) 5.
Wins at Wimbledonu 7 (2002, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016) 2. (with Steffi Graf)
Wins at US Open  6 (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014) 2. (with Chris Evert)
World's no. 1 position 319 weeks 3.
Total number of titles in doubles at WTA 23  
Olympic gold 4 (1× singles, 3× doubles)  

She played the last grand slam finale pregnant

She won her last Grand Slam title in Australia in 2017. Who did she beat in the final then? It was none other than older sister Venus. "Without her I wouldn't have reached any title, without her I wouldn't have done anything. She is my inspiration and the only reason I am standing here today," Serena sang odes to her sister during her thank you speech. For she herself has rewritten history. With her 23rd Grand Slam title, she ranks second in the historical tables behind Margaret Court, who has one more trophy.



In April, Serena announced that she was 20 weeks pregnant. She won her twenty-third Grand Slam in a blessed state. Many have expressed amazement that she can deliver such an admirable performance at a time when she is carrying a child under her heart, and at the age of thirty-five.


Alexis Olympia Ohanian's daughter was born in September 2017, after a very difficult birth in which the tennis player's life was at stake. She was able to return to the courts very early, even reaching the finals at several Grand Slam tournaments, but she is still waiting for her coveted 24th major tournament title.


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Příspěvek sdílený Serena Williams (@serenawilliams)


She could not avoid controversies

Serena Williams' career has been marked by many controversial moments in addition to her successes. She often did not go far for a sharp word, she also did not hesitate to quarrel with the umpires. For example, in 2009 she was fined for unsportsmanlike behavior towards the linesman. According to some American media, she had threatened her with words about killing her.



The 2019 US Open final, in which Serena eventually lost to Naomi Osaka of Japan, also caused a stir. But the latter didn't enjoy her first major moment of fame. The final match was marred in particular by the American tennis player's clashes with the umpire, who reprimanded her for taking unauthorized advice from her coach.


For the second time, she was guilty of breaking the rules when she threw her racket on the ground in anger. The referee then awarded a penalty stroke. Williams didn't hesitate to argue with him. She accused him, among other things, of sexism and of taking the match away from her unfairly. "You owe me an apology, I never cheated. You stole my point, you're a thief," she lashed out at him sharply to the loud support of the home crowd.



Many condemned her for her hysterical behaviour, others admired her for fighting for the rights of tennis players. In her words, men do much worse things on the courts, but no one punishes them like that.

"Building a tennis resume or a family? I choose the latter."

Whether you lean towards one camp or the other, you can't deny that Serena Williams has made an indelible mark on the tennis world and has become one of the sport's most prominent figures.


I didn't want to admit to myself that I needed to move on from tennis. The subject was taboo. I think about it and I want to cry.


Whether she can succeed and win a record 24th Grand Slam title will be determined at this year's US Open, where she won her first ever trophy in 1999. And in the United States, it will also probably be the last time she will be on the tennis courts. In an article for the September issue of Vogue, she wrote that family plans took precedence over tennis.



Daughter Olympia said she would like a sibling. "She often says it, sometimes praying before bedtime that she will have a little sister. I have four sisters myself and they are my heroes. I find it so important to listen to her wish," she said, adding that she is at an age where she cannot fully commit to both.


"Believe me, I never wanted to choose between family and tennis. It's not fair. If I were a man, I would never have written this article. I would have played and won while my wife physically expanded our family in the meantime," she wrote. While she will pursue other activities besides her family life, such as her business, she said she will miss tennis. "Like it's not real until I say it out loud. When it comes up, it makes an uncomfortable lump in my throat and makes me cry," she added.

She tries not to think about whether she will say goodbye to tennis as a tournament winner. "I would be lying if I said I don't want to get over it. If I reach the final, I will think about it. But just the fact that I've done it thirty-three times is extraordinary. If I have to choose between building my tennis resume or building my family, I choose the latter."


Source: Getty Images / Bradley Kanaris


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Thumbnail: Getty Images / Bradley Kanaris
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